“It’s not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall, it’s a painting, and if you can walk around it, it’s a sculpture.” Tom Stoppard
In New England, the perfect summer day is such a rare treat as to insist we take advantage of it whenever it deigns to visit. Like flowers ever facing the sun, in summer, I shift from my regular haunts to get my cultural fix based less on the type of art, and more on the venue’s proximity to the parts of nature that I love most. Some favorites of mine include local and street art fairs, Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, the Crane Estate in Ipswich, MA, St Gaudens National Historical Site in Cornish, NH, Galatea Fine Art in Boston, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lincoln, MA, and Gloucester Stage Company, Gloucester, MA. Haven’t been to the Hatch Shell on Boston’s Esplanade or Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton, NH in years (too crowded for me) or ever to Tanglewood (Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home), but music just sounds better amid the mosquitoes and greenheads as evidenced by the long lines and sold out performances at each.
So feeling footloose and fancy free with my stepdaughter visiting her mom in Mississippi and my rabbits in the very capable and compassionate hands of the third best critter we ever found at MSPCA Nevins Farm, Stephanie, (sorry, Stephanie Bunny Groomer and Sitter extraordinaire, the great white rabbit is sitting in my lap reading along and insists she and her brother come first), my
husband and I journeyed north. We stopped along the way to appreciate nature and make art of our own with our digital cameras. Then we went in search of a life-sized woolly mammoth and of course, ice cream, and we found both in Concord, NH as we whiled away an hour or two before our dinner reservations. Concord we learned is a town of contradictions; we passed the
decrepit ruins of a state mental hospital and continuing in the same direction, the prestigious St. Paul’s Prep School, then antique farmhouses and ultimately in the midst of an entirely residential neighborhood, The Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden http://www.themillbrookgallery.com/. It’s such a well-hidden gem that the GPS misdirected us to a residential driveway before I remembered it was a little farther up Hopkinton Rd. We did go inside to view the gallery and marveled at the
multi-dimensional exhibit of children’s book illustrators, mobiles and a striking piece by William F. McLane. But we soon headed into the light for a mega-dose of vitamin D, and the “14th Annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit” June 26 – October 16.
I can’t say I understand much about modern art or sculpture beyond what Mr. Stoppard wrote above. And for others in that same category, might I suggest the “gut method” of divination about whether a piece is good or not. If you like it, it’s good. Rocks work for me, as does glass, rust, flora and fauna and wood. And that’s the great scheme. Since I can find most of those materials in nature, I more than
double my likelihood of being pleased with my visit to an outdoor exhibit. The sculptures at Mill Brook ranged from beautiful to thought-provoking to slightly ominous. My spirits were especially buoyed by the setting, the flowers, water and a couple of performance artists – a pug and a goose. Try and find that in the MFA!
Day two, we headed to Mount Sunapee and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair. LNHC is a former client and I’ve been a fan for decades. http://nhcrafts.org/index.html. The fair is the oldest, continuously running craft fair in the US, and according to the LNHC website the fair was voted one of America’s Top 10 Fairs and Festivals in 2010 by AmericanStyle readers. The 9-day fair runs through August 14. The quality of the exhibitors, the musicians, demonstrators and instructors is so amazing, you’ll want to stay all day and maybe visit more than once a week.
Nature framed our day with wonder. We had a cooling mix of short downpours, canvas-worthy clouds, and, after the chairlift ride to the summit, views that made me want to write poetry about life and beauty. Meandering through the sculpture garden at the fair, I found favorites easily and in one area watched as an impossibly high cairn was toppled after a pint-sized hit and run. No one was injured, and bystanders enjoyed interactive art as they pitched in to reconstruct the tower, and they were better off for the experience, as was I. I can now say I exhibited at the oldest, juried, craft fair in the country, well, without the juried part.
- http://www.celebrateboston.com/hatch-shell.html http://www.casinoballroom.com/index.php
© 2011 Alison Colby-Campbell