|Amelia Toelke Home Sweet Home, wood, auto paint, steel support|
Daniel Chester French's home and studio in the Berkshires is sublime. French was the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, and being the top dog in his field at the time, was able to create an enviable place to live and work in rural Stockbridge, Mass. The spoils of that success are now on gracious display, beautifully preserved and maintained, and the site has bridged the centuries to remain a vital resource for contemporary sculptors today.
|Brian Kane & Michael Oatman|
The 8th Wonder, inflatable
The show includes 14 works of art by 14 artists (with two pieces by one artist, and one piece by two) and is sited along a manicured woodland path. This path and other elements of the grounds (such as a flower garden) were among French's ongoing efforts in this "work-in-progress" of a summer studio, and it adds to the delight of the experience to think about such a classical, workmanlike artist as French in contrast to the way we make and interact with sited sculpture today.
One is immediately struck by the lighthearted tone of the show upon arrival at the entrance to Chesterwood, where a monumentally scaled, gold-tone nameplate necklace announces Homesweethome from a grassy berm. This neo-Pop statement by Amelia Toelke is among the minority of pieces in this collection that was not made specifically for the occasion, but it is so apt and so perfectly sited that I'm glad she didn't hesitate to use it again.
|Douglas Culhane A Ghost House|
wood, paint, hardware
What French would surely approve, though, is the fact that this experience requires a lovely stroll through the woods (for which you may want to bring bug repellent). In a few cases, the works really aim to capitalize on this aspect of the installation. For example, Colin C. Boyd's prehistorical obsession finds form here in a display of ancient deer-like critters that almost look at home in these woods; and Debra Zlotsky's Just a Minute! directs visitors to study a tiny patch of the local flora, and then mark it with a string-tied red label (leaving me sorry for the staff who will have to untie the hundreds of tags already employed).
|Derek Parker Between the forest and the trees|
wood chairs, trees
|Roger Bisbing Pass Through, painted steel|
Another favorite is Matt LaFleur's The Camp, which places several wooden tents into the woods, exactly like a scouts' camp, but not like one at all, as they have no entrances and are painted with bright, multicolored stripes. The piece is at once nostalgic and brand-new.
Out of Site: Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood continues through Oct. 9 and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Events associated with the show include walking tours on Fridays at 2 p.m. through Aug. 11.
|Matt LaFleur The Camp, wood and paint|