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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: June 3, 2019

Walk a mile through sculpture at Hawk Ridge Farm in Pownal

Written by: Bob Keyes

The sculptor John Wilkinson was born in the industrial town of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England, in August 1942, and came of age after World War II. When he was 18, he saw a bronze cast of “Fallen Warrior” by the English sculptor Henry Moore, an experience that changed his life.

John Wilkinson’s “Singing or Shouting.” Image courtesy of June LaCombe Sculpture

Moore’s empathetic rendering of a broken human form sprawled awkwardly on the ground made an impression on Wilkinson, now 76 and living in Stonington. He’s been interested in art and sculpture since, and his latest work on view this spring at June LaCombe Sculpture at Hawk Ridge Farm in Pownal references his early interactions with Moore’s “Fallen Warrior.” He gives his light-colored cement and epoxy constructions human form, grouping figures together on horizontal planes or placing them in exalted positions atop pedestals.

Metaphorically, his art is about the human journey and suggests figures moving through time. He shapes his material with his hands, leaving his own mark on time. “I just really like the idea of the hand of a person actively shaping something. I like texture a great deal. I want to leave a trace of the person making it,” he said.

Before he became a sculptor, Wilkinson was a professor of English literature. He moved to the United States in 1964 to study in upstate New York. Having grown up where he did, he fell in comfortably with Buffalo and its “its steel mill people and barbers. And for some reason, they took me in,” he said. His academic career took him to Ohio. Art was always present, percolating above and below the surface, and in the 1980s he began an active career as an exhibiting artist.

He moved to Maine in the mid-1990s and has been showing sculpture in Maine, mostly at the former Leighton Gallery in Blue Hill, since 1996. Wilkinson is among dozens of New England sculptors whose work is on display at Hawk Ridge Farm in LaCombe’s exhibition, “Living with Art.”

John Wilkinson’s “So What” sculpture

The exhibition includes about 150 pieces placed in her home and in the pasture and along an expanded sculpture trail. It takes about 30 minutes to see all the work, and trail and pasture cover about a mile. LaCombe is featuring the work of Mark Pettegrow in this show, which runs through June 30, and will highlight Wilkinson’s work in her autumn show, which opens on Oct. 1, following a summer break.

“The New England landscape has inspired outstanding sculptors who are exploring myth and metaphor through material form,” LaCombe said. “They use the region’s materials to create work that is as powerful as the places that inspire them.”

IF YOU GO:

“Living with Art”

WHERE: June LaCombe Sculpture, Hawk Ridge Farm, 90 Minot Road, Pownal
WHEN: Public hours 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays with artist talks at 2 p.m., and by appointment; through June 30
INFO: (207) 688-4468 or junelacombesculpture.com
ARTIST TALKS: “Driftwood to Bronze,” Dan West, Sunday; “Bronze Abstractions,” Mark Pettegrow, June 16; “Ceramic Vessel as Canvas,” Paul Heroux, June 23; “Siting Sculpture,” June LaCombe, June 30.

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