May 20, 2007

Art amidst the trees

"Should we get a trail map?" I asked.

The gang of children scoffed. And I suppose they were right. It's more fun to just wander and explore, with that thrill of discovery as we stumble upon things.

It was cool, sunny day – no mosquitoes yet – a perfect day to walk through the art park. A hilly landscape of meadows and woods, set in a rural area of cornfields and red barns, the 104-acre art park is a lovely place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Art installations are spread throughout the open, natural space, alongside the many winding trails. The weather, the seasons, and the wildlife collaborate with the artists as time goes by, the sculptures evolving into something wild.

Many of the art installations invite interaction. We looked through panes of glass to peer at farmland spread below the hill, we climbed inside wooden structures, we put our heads inside picture frames, we stood below bright coloured art that dangled from tree branches. One of the big wooden sculptures looked, by the time I reached it, like a mural capturing the energy of teenage boys, who were circling about and ducking under to get inside. Wildflowers bloomed along the paths and sometimes inside the works of art. Sunlight flickered as clouds moved across the sky, changing shadows and reflections.

Volunteers doing trail maintenance had just filled the trail through the woods with mulch that smelled wonderfully of pine. My husband stopped near a teenager cutting a fallen tree and said in a dramatic voice: "This one is called Girl Sawing Logs."

Shaggy Hair Boy liked just racing ahead on the trails, but With-a-Why was fascinated with the works of art. He kept saying, "Let's go find more artwork," and he insisted on going back to his favorite piece, a clay sculpture that imitated the movement of water, a piece big enough for him to step into. He sat inside the sculpture and rubbed his hands along the swirls in the clay. "Look at how the curve changes – suddenly and gradually."

"Those are opposite," Skater Boy said.

"I know. That's why it's cool."

The other boys took the artwork less seriously, joking and fooling around as they ran through paths in the woods, shouting to each other when they found something new to look at. One piece might lead them to a bout of silliness, all of them coming up with crazy new titles. But other times, they'd all go quiet, circling and touching glass or stone or wood, their feet and tongues slowed for just a moment as they puzzled over something that moved them in ways they could not articulate.

Portrait of an artist

With-a-Why adding his reflection to an art installation.


RageyOne said...

Sounds like a fun place to visit.

dr. zombieswan said...

Your blog is always such a joy to read. I get jealous, because I rarely go out in nature the way you do, and when I write about it, I feel sort of fakey. But the other side of the coin of jealousy is inspiration; I plan to try to write about the nature stuff I see.

angelfeet said...

It's been a while since I visited a sculpture park here, but they are fantastic. I love that picture of With-a-Why.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I LOVE the artpark, what a very great place to go--I MISS it! WAHN! I'm glad you had fun there. I love your posts, keep up the good work. Mary :-D

S. said...

Did you see that With-a-Why's reflection makes a Y?

Katy Murr said...

Wow! I'm pretty damn certain my friends and I would have a great time if we went to one of these; I wonder whether there are any where we live! I intend to find out.

jo(e) said...

S: I wondered if anyone would catch that!

Kyla said...

What a cool park!

Yankee T said...

Excuse me, jo(e)...but With-A-Why's arms look like those of an adolescent, not a little boy. He's growing up in front of our eyes, and we don't even know what he looks like!

jo(e) said...

Yankee: Yes, I'm afraid it's true. He's fast turning into a teenager. He's been eating like crazy lately, and I know from experience what that means -- he'll go shooting up past me and my daughter this summer.

Bitty said...

Art park? I can't even imagine such a thing in my area.