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This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the July 10, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Grounds Celebrates Ten
After a big birthday, friends often ask the celebrant,
"What’d ja get?" Grounds for Sculpture, now a 10-year-old
Hamilton landmark, would have to answer that question with another
one: "How long do you have?"
To mark its 10th anniversary, the sculpture park invited 20 artists
who had had solo shows there during its first decade to show one work.
They all responded positively, a few with something created just for
the occasion, and others with recent or milestone pieces.
On view through July 14 in both the Museum and Domestic Arts buildings,
the invitational works represent the range of styles, materials and
subjects. By suggesting earlier work or showing an artist’s current
direction, they may point either back or forward.
Working in a garage that served as temporary quarters after his "real"
studio was destroyed in a gas explosion, James Dinerstein barely finished
his "Sky-gatherer I" in time for the opening — that’s
how recent it was. Even then, the artist made clear he would like
to do still more with the surface of the abstract pigmented cement
As the first in a series that will share "a kind of upward turned,
space-cupping arc," this piece is about shadows, Dinerstein says.
In contrast to his more closed and compact work, "Sky-gatherer"
is as large as the garage space let him make it and still get it out.
Dinerstein was one of at least four sculptors who made new work for
the invitational. Pod shapes and circles characterize the abstract
sculpture of Jeffrey Maron, who made "The Dance" of copper
alloy with polychromed oxides; Dana Stewart gave life to "Boomer,"
a huge cast bronze beast with a tail that won’t quit; and Jay Wholly’s
cast iron "Bru Na Boinne Cube" — at three feet around,
his largest cube so far — was cast at the Johnson Atelier for
this show. It is notable both internally and externally, with rusted
fissures and smooth surfaces.
Although it originated in 1986, only last year did Leonda Finke decide
on crucial changes to "Witness I" before it was cast in bronze.
The figure, a mature woman lying on her right side and shielding her
face with her arms, needed more tension, Finke decided. And so the
left leg, already extended, was raised, to the sculptor’s stated satisfaction.
Size is a talking point for at least two new works. Bill Barrett’s
warm-hued abstract bronze, "Arc en Ciel," arches, points,
twists, and curls smoothly, and while big enough to walk through,
it’s not at all off-putting or intimidating. Robert Murray’s "Lillooet
II" is an example of a sculpture with older roots: in a much smaller
incarnation, it was first cast at the Johnson Atelier in 1985. Only
this year did Murray enlarge it to its seven-foot height. "Finding
the right size for an abstract sculpture is an interesting problem
that has a lot to do with how much of the piece is above or below
eye level," Murray has said, adding that while "Lillooet"
could be even bigger, it works well on a one-to-one level now.
Isaac Witkin’s third stone sculpture, his "Family of Man,"
in four-foot high alabaster, is being shown for the first time at
the invitational. Its curving abstracted figures exemplify that family’s
great diversity. Red Grooms weighs in with the small "Jumbo,"
a delightful flashback to his boyhood circus experiences, when elephants
were assumed to be only too happy to give performers a trunk-ride.
Rendered in enamel on aluminum, it’s a nostalgic look back.
Creator of abstract, totemic sculptures in cast iron and steel, Beverly
Pepper is represented in the show by two cast bronze pieces described
as "stone-like." They are credited for prompting her to work
in stone. Andrzej Pitynski’s bronze sword-wielding horseman is akin
in patriotic spirit to his other works celebrating freedom fighters.
In its 10-year history, Grounds for Sculpture’s inaugural outdoor
display of 15 pieces has grown to nearly 200 today. Its indoor galleries
now house group and solo shows three times a year, moving over time
from sculpture-only to include other media a sculptor may employ,
such as drawing and painting. And the park was the first venue anywhere
to focus exclusively on Red Grooms’ sculpture.
What may have begun as an anomaly — "What’s going on at the
old fairgrounds?" — has in a few short years become a widely
respected institution where member support and ongoing expansion are
just a couple of indicators of its success.
— Pat Summers
18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, 609-586-0616. Show runs to Sunday,
July 14. Park is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year
round. Adult admission $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday and
Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Www.groundsforsculpture.org.
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