Boston Sculptors in the Berkshires

Chesterwood • Stockbridge, MA • chesterwood.org • Through October 12, 2015

By: Charles Bonenti

Thompson
Andrea Thompson, Time and Tide, 2015, steam-bent wood, fiber- glass cloth in resin, hand-hewn, laminated wood, 12 x 5 x 2′ each. Photo: Paul Rocheleau.

Boston Sculptors Gallery has a western outpost: Chesterwood, former home of sculptor Daniel Chester French. It opened its grounds to the SoWa cooperative as temporary exhibition space. Twenty-four artists responded with proposals for site-specific pieces inspired by French’s work and the estate’s landscape. They range from substantial architectural constructions, to gauzy sails, to pennies scattered along a woodland path; and they activate the grounds with jolts of color, expressive shapes and 
metaphorical content.

Many reference the natural world—birds, flowers, insects—but few the human figure, which French repeatedly used for his neoclassical allegories and memorials in bronze and stone. Today’s public sculptures prefer a postmodern language borrowing from many sources. Of these, a handful at Chesterwood stand out for inventiveness, poetic presence, wit and depth of spirit.

Andrea Thompson’s sublime Time and Tide, an allusion to the quote “Time and tide wait for no man,” features three translucent hulls perched atop tall, tilting poles like ghostly vessels borne forward. Laura Evans’s frenetic Threading Yellow, is a long run of yellow tubing, tape, wire and paint that burrows underground, leaps up a tree, flies through the air and drops down to coil through the undergrowth like a scampering living creature.

Nancy Winship Milliken’s solemn Landmark I, II, and III has a trio of metal-framed spires set in a pasture and sided with stone, weathered barn board, horse hair and sheep’s wool. One is an armature for a tangle of harnesses. Her organic and fabricated materials, artfully crafted into skeletal towers, pay homage to a vanishing agricultural heritage. Caroline Bagenal’s lively Words and Leaves has hardcover books, painted bright red, hanging like fruit from the lower tree branches, their pages reprising the living leaves around them.

And Andy Moerlein’s Ancient Migration deftly borrows from the realm of myth. A bird perched above a river valley etched into the forehead of an avian skull resting on stick legs becomes a forceful symbol of an epic occurrence. An allied exhibition, Boston Sculptors in Concord, features some of the same artists, at the Concord Art Association (concordart.org) through August 15, 2015.



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