Great sculptors don’t see or think the way the rest of us do. Their internal discussions are rich and detailed, and may be revealed in their art — but that’s not essential. What is essential is that their art be seen, so people can appreciate the result of all that thought.
The value of “Exposed,” the outdoor sculpture exhibit that’s been organized for 24 years by the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, is that it ensures art goes out to meet the people.
In the exhibit curated by Rachel Moore, these works are positioned on the Helen Day’s front lawn, along Main Street, in front of and on the Akeley Memorial Building (Stowe’s town hall), and near the Stowe Recreation Path. The show runs through Oct. 14.
Every year, it’s fun to watch people try to take in the sculptures. Some ooh and aah; some scoff; kids sit on them; people take selfies with them. Art, meet your public; public, meet the art.
This year, works by 13 sculptors are in “Exposed,” along with a visual display of poetry by Ruth Stone, who was Vermont’s poet laureate before she died. Her words appear on the Akeley building’s windows.
Here’s a quick look at the 13 sculptors and what they have to say about their own works.
Scott Boyd, “Intention”; two metal-frame boxes sit on bare earth cleared on a lawn adjacent to Stowe Community Church. Boyd, who grew up in Stowe, has studied all over the world and has shown his work widely in the U.S. and in Paris.
“For me, creating this sculpture has been a matter of establishing a formal premise and conflicting this with my own artistic process. I developed two identical geometric forms that are measured in whole numbers. The intercepting part dividing the two is measured, for the most part, in fractional numbers and operates under its own set of conditions. I used shifts in symmetry and alignment to create a competitive tension between the two boxlike shapes. While dividing these two heavyweights, the central fractional development suggests a dialectical process that results in synthesis, resolution and aesthetic balance.”
John Clement, “Tiller,” huge, intertwined orange rings that invite kids to sit on them on the Helen Day’s front lawn. Clement has completed many major public commissions and installations across the United States and abroad. He lives and works in Brooklyn.
“I built ‘Tiller’ in 2007 at my studio on Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn. … As a child, I spent a good deal of time sailing the waters north of Boston in a 28-foot Cape Dory sailboat, which had a tiller. I vividly recall my father commanding me to take the tiller as he headed forward to wrestle with the sails, and feeling the boat immediately react to the tiller’s movement. I was awed that this large vessel could be controlled by a mere stick of smooth wood. In a similar sense, when I added the straight piece to this sculpture, it seemingly took full control of the work and steered it towards completion.”
Christopher Curtis, “Gnomon,” “X-Bench” and “Quiet.” Gnomon is the part of a sundial that casts a shadow; this particular shadow is in front of the Akeley Memorial Building at 67 Main St. Curtis lives in Stowe and co-owns West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Garden.
His three pieces, “although very different in their initial appearance, share a common trait that, along with the overall designs, reveals an important aspect of my work: Each piece combines a highly finished surface with the natural, unworked skin of the original stone. This blend of refined and raw materials refers both to mankind’s propensity to alter our environment and to our fleeting place in the course of geological time.”
Murray Dewart, “Donegal Gate,” on Main Street near the Green Mountain Inn. In his 40-year career, Dewart has built large public and private pieces across the U.S., and in China and Israel. Sculpture Magazine named him “one of Boston’s premier sculptors.”
A hamlet in Starksboro is called Jerusalem Corners, “and the name triggered my imagination. I began building gate-like forms, and titled the first ones after the gates of the Old City in Jerusalem, Israel, and later ones after gates in Ireland (like Donegal Gate). I would sometimes say, ‘There is a part of me traveling toward Jerusalem in a way I cannot explain.’ These gate forms have become a metaphor for pilgrimage and a kind of yearning.”
Susie J. Gray, “Cocoon,” on the Helen Day lawn. Gray is an artist, craftsperson, designer, educator and counselor. Among other things, she designs edible landscapes and weaves willow.
“Seven years ago, during a period of personal struggle, I came upon ‘The Story of the Emperor Moth,’ a short, inspiring tale about the miraculous transformation that takes place through metamorphosis. … Since then, I have experienced a metamorphosis of my own, as a woman, differently abled human being, traditional craftsperson, and artist. Cocoon represents a new beginning. To all who enter, I hope you find it a sanctuary—a place to read, draw, or simply sit enveloped by the willow and dream big dreams.”
Andrea Lilienthal, “Tip Top,” an ornate bamboo ladder perched on the balcony above the entryway to the Helen Day Memorial Library and Art Center building. Last February, she installed Roundabout, 137 painted white birch saplings, at the Helen Day. She lives in Brooklyn.
“This bamboo ladder is not for climbing in a physical sense. The only way to climb Tip Top is with the imagination. … The colors and patterns are chosen to create a strong sense of silhouette against the white peaked roof, and cast a shadow at different times of the day.”
Kathryn Lipke, an untitled boat-like work near the Stowe Recreation Path. Kathryn Lipke Vigesaa is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works near North Troy, Vt.
“For the past 18 years, I have been living on the edge of the North Branch River, where water and its flow has become the subject of much of my artwork. … The river can be both beautiful and threatening; it is dreams and memory; it is light absorbed and reflected; it is power. … I build vessels, forms and environments based on these experiences that allude to our own brief journey through life as part of a more universal, seemingly illusory context and continuum.”
John Matusz, “Three Sisters,” near the Stowe Recreation Path; it’s the photo on the cover. He lives in northern Vermont.
“‘Three Sisters’ is composed of a stainless steel stem and three solid granite spheres. I cut and welded the stainless steel myself, and had the granite carved and machined in Barre. Then, I did the final assembly and polishing at my studio in Waitsfield — no easy feat, considering this massive sculpture weighs one full ton."
Evan Morse, “Warp,” along the Stowe Recreation Path. Morse graduated from Wheaton College in 2009. He studied sculpture and marble carving in Carrara, Italy.
“The sculptural process of Warp was driven by a curiosity of unknown results. When I initially conceived this design of taut cord on an aluminum frame, I did not know exactly how it would look when finished, but I did know that it would appear different from every angle. I was also intrigued to see how the idea I’d drawn up on paper would translate when constructed with actual materials. … The tension of the nylon cord caused the aluminum to bend. ‘Warp’ echoes the practical concerns of engineers, architects and designers, while the sculpture itself serves only an aesthetic or philosophical function.”
Rodrigo Nava, “Infinity Form Large” and “Reverse Trapezohedron Form,” along Main Street. Nava is head of the sculpture program at The Putney School.
“My most recent series — including the two shown here, “Infinity Form Large” and “Reverse Trapezohedron Form” — consists of large, closed steel forms that are expanded using a controlled explosion. … I have developed a unique method that allows me to create nonrepresentational sculptures that are the pure, authentic result of the relationship between the material, process, artist, and viewer. When I expand my work, I am attempting to dismantle my tie to an object by allowing it to become its own object.”
Kate Pond, “Sentinel,” along Main Street. Pond grew up in Vermont, graduated from Skidmore, studied art in Paris, became a working artist in 1972, and lives in Burlington.
“‘Sentinel’ (formerly ‘Hidden Agenda’), a concrete and Corten steel sculpture, is part of a series of work I did in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The entire series has a definite reference to the rectilinear—and ‘Sentinel’ in particular is centered and archetypal, with the two materials meeting in a curve. The rust pattern connects the steel and concrete visually and was intentional. The top section’s Corten ‘weathering steel’ has evolved to a permanent patina. It is an outdoor piece with no maintenance requirement.”
Bruce White, “Light Ring,” on the Helen Day lawn. He’s has taught at schools around the country, and was recently named Distinguished Research Professor at Northern Illinois University.
“When I’m conceiving a new work, I don’t usually begin with a specific idea in mind; rather, I rely on the manipulation of paper or thin sheet metal to generate a ‘surprise’ solution, which can only be fully realized three dimensionally. At that point, I’ll pursue the idea on a larger scale. In recent projects — including ‘Light Ring’ — I take advantage of an open interior by randomly piercing the surface so that, during the day, sunlight is captured within and ‘bounces’ around to make the sculpture shimmer from the sun’s movement as it reflects on the different angles.”
Michael Zebrowski, “Observatory,” along the Stowe Recreation Path. His work explores art, architecture, and science through the lens of material culture. He is an assistant professor of fine arts at Johnson State College.
“My creative practice investigates the concept of architecture as an instrument to record time, space and light. … ‘Observatory’ focuses on the human perception of the fundamental laws of the universe acting on architecture. In other words, architecture is an instrument and our phenomenological experience of it provides a reading of the calibrated device.”