The best sculpture radiates an energy that fills a space and reveals its depths and layers. When the sculpture is sited outdoors, the energy of the art changes with the season and by the light of day.
This fall, sculpture curator June LaCombe has arranged several exhibitions in southern and coastal Maine that feature hundreds of pieces of sculpture by dozens of artists from Maine, New England and across the Northeast. In Augusta, Viles Arboretum hosts a sculpture symposium this week, where sculptors create new work on the grounds.
Collectively, the exhibitions in Freeport, Pownal, Boothbay, Augusta and Bar Harbor transform the landscapes they occupy by adding dimensions of stone and steel and flashes of aluminum, as well as an artist’s eye that helps us appreciate our surroundings in different ways.
The best sculpture makes us pause and appreciate a place on a deeper level, LaCombe said.
The smallest and quietest of the fall sculpture exhibitions sits in the middle of one of the busiest streets in all of Maine. LaCombe placed a pair of granite, flowing bench-like forms on the lawn outside Freeport Historical Society on Main Street. Just behind and above is a gilded whale, its fluke catching the sun.
The sculpture, by Jordan Smith and John Bowdren, is subtle but firm. You can’t help but notice the glint of the gold fluke or feel seduced by the cool, provocative reclining stone benches. One grabs your eye, the other makes you want to sit.
The Freeport Historical Society is an anomaly on Freeport’s bustling retail row. It’s a historic brick building with a green lawn that separates it from street. The lawn offers a quiet respite. The idea — the hope — is that people will be curious enough to enter the yard and take a closer look at the sculpture, then head inside the historical society to see an unrelated exhibition, “Freeport Artists of the Past.”
“10,000 people walk by their front door,” LaCombe said, “so we put out pieces of sculpture that will make people want to stop.”
The free exhibit is on view through October. For more information, visit freeporthistoricalsociety.org
Here are a few other outdoor sculpture exhibitions
“Autumn at Hawk Ridge Farm,” 90 Minot Road, Pownal. Open house 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through October and by appointment, 207-688-4468.
LaCombe hosts this exhibition to showcase dozens of artists and the allure of well-sited sculpture. She and her husband have lived at Hawk Ridge Farm for 40 years, and they’ve cultivated the buildings and landscape to reflect their aesthetics and sensibilities as stewards of the land and as people who appreciate art.
LaCombe has arranged more than 100 pieces of sculpture in her pasture, in her home and along the new 3/8-mile Woodland Trail that she established on recently purchased land across from her farm.
The pasture is filled with work by familiar artists. Wendy Klemperer, whose weathered steel animals fill the entry road to the Portland International Jetport, is showing three horses and a walking elk. There’s a soft granite reclining female figure by Cabot Lyford, quietly under the branches of a tree, and a smooth granite bench by Gary Haven Smith, invitingly sited under a sprawling maple.
LaCombe uses the umbrella of the tree for her Maple Tree Talks on Sundays at 2 p.m., part of her weekly open house. Smith, an abstract carver from Northwood, New Hampshire, will discuss his work on Sunday.
The Woodland Trail has about 30 pieces by many of Maine’s best-known sculptors. The trail head is marked by a granite female figure carved by Lise Becu. There’s a wooden trapeze ladder hanging from a tree by Lin Lisberger and mighty carved oak acorn by Anne Alexander.
“Stone Waves” by Gary Haven Smith, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay; mainegardens.org
The lullaby landscape of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens provides a lush and elegant setting for a dozen of Gary Haven Smith’s large-scale, mostly granite carvings. Smith likes working with glacial boulders because of their ancient legacies. He calls them “nuggets of history that have been rolled and tumbled.”
He fashions them into abstract forms that turn and twist along the natural bend and break of the rock. He sees his work as releasing the fluidity of the rock using saws, sandblasters and drills to carve, cut and shape the work.
“Stone Waves” is on view through Oct. 23.
2016 Viles Arboretum Sculpture Symposium, Viles Arboretum, 153 Hospital St., Augusta; 207-626-7989 or vilesarboretum.org
A dozen carvers will create new works in stone, and people are welcome to watch while they work. The artists are Lise Becu, Isabel Kelley, Paul Kozak, Gerry Hoff, David Sywalski, Dan Ucci, Andreas von Huene, Miles Chapin, David Randall, Anne Alexander, Mark Herrington and Richard Alden. They are working from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily this week. From 4 to 7 p.m.Saturday, the arboretum will celebrate the creation of the new work with a closing reception. The arboretum’s sculpture trail is fast becoming one of Maine’s best opportunities for viewing outdoor art.
Admission is free.
“Where Mountains Meet the Sea” featuring Miles Chapin, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor; coa.edu
This exhibition includes sculpture by many of the artists who are showing at Hawk Ridge Farm in Pownal, set on the exquisite campus of the College of the Atlantic. The exhibition offers a quick hike through one of the nicest settings on the coast of Maine.
On view through Oct. 29.