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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: May 29, 2014

Maine Audubon installs new outdoor sculpture hiking tour

Written by: Bob Keyes

They rise like twin totems.

Two carved trees stripped of their bark, their faces cut flat and facing each other.

The artist, Herb Ferris, hollowed the cores and painted each cavity with gold leaf.

Curator June LaCombe set “Not One, Not Two” at a bend along a winding woodland trail at Gilsland Farm and positioned it to catch the setting sun and create a glint among the green.

LaCombe hopes the piece also captures the imagination of visitors on the trail.

“I want people to walk slowly and pay attention and see things around them that they might miss,” LaCombe said. “I just believe the piece helps you pay attention to the place.”

The Ferris piece is among 70 sculptures on view at the Maine Audubon headquarters in Falmouth as part of “A Celebration of Art and Nature.” The show marks LaCombe’s 25 years of placing art in nature.

For this show, she sited sculpture in granite, marble, steel, wood and bronze by three dozen New England artists in the peony and butterfly gardens close to the visitor’s center and along an easy, half-mile hiking trail that is enveloped in tall trees and burnished by meadows.

Many of the sculptures are hidden in the woods. Others rise over the land like sentinels or punctuate a garden from a pedestal perch.

Several large pieces rim the gravel road that leads from Route 1 into the farm. Jesse Salisbury carved a piece of basalt to suggest phases of the moon

Gary Haven Smith shaped glacial erratic granite to look like the number zero being squeezed from both sides. He left the outer edge rough, and polished the hollowed interior like a pearl. LaCombe called Smith’s piece “the star of the show.”

“I like its scale, its drama and its presence,” she said. “It’s rhythmic and sensual.”

Wendy Klemperer, who made the steel wildlife on view at the Portland International Jetport, has several pieces at Audubon, some of which will remain on view in Portland after this show closes Sept. 30.

At the end of a pasture near the visitor’s center, Klemperer depicts an osprey made of steel preparing to land. It’s a dramatic sculpture that captures movement, strength and survival.

Klemperer is working on a nest to accompany the piece, and both will be placed at the Portland side of the new Route 1 bridge under construction between Portland and Falmouth Foreside. The osprey and nest will be built on a platform supported by a pillar, and LaCombe said the sculptor plans to salvage material from the old bridge to use in her nest.
It will be installed when the bridge project is finished and the surroundings landscaped.

Two of Klemperer’s grazing deer, sited in the woods in Falmouth, will end up as part of the display at the jetport.

Klemperer also has a porcupine and a pair of menacing coyotes in the Audubon exhibition.

Stephen Porter, the son of photographer Eliot Porter, shows several mirror-polished stainless steel abstract pieces that reflect the surrounding gardens, pastures and wooded areas. LaCombe sited two tall Porter pieces near a stand of trees. Though they are bright and shiny, they create a quiet presence.

Several pieces are on view indoors at the visitor’s center, including whale and bird carvings by Cabot Lyford.

Lyford is the subject of the latest Maine Masters movie series about Maine artists. On July 16, Maine Audubon will screen the movie and host a reception for donors who raised money to make the movie.

For the first time, LaCombe is creating an audio tour of the exhibition. As soon as she gets the chance to make the recordings, which will include commentary from artists, visitors will be able to hear about the work they’re seeing by calling a number on their cellphones.
Hike the Trails of Audubon to find the sculptures

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