The sculpture park

MANCHESTER -The Southern Vermont Sculpture Park is expanding with contemporary works that fill the fields and meadows as well as the forest along the nearly one mile drive way. The SVAC is a community asset and the sculpture park is a place for people to come and experience sculptures set in the landscape that surrounds the arts center.

The outdoor works belong to the environment, a natural mix of forest, mountain and fields. Both aspects of art and nature are enhanced for a unique experience. Sculpture is also multi-generational. There is timelessness about large outdoor art that appeals to everyone. At the SVAC's sculpture park, young and the young at heart can enjoy the park. Visitors can simply drive slowly to view the works, or exercise by walking the road or the paths that are cut to each sculpture. When walking up to the sculptures, the experience multiplies because of scale changes as visitors approach - and because of the changing relationship of the object to the background of nature.

Excitement and interest builds upon entrance to the mile-long drive to the Southern Vermont Art Center. From just past the gate to the parking lot, visitors see contemporary sculptures in what is the Northeast's only sculpture park. And the SVAC leadership's vision is to firmly establish itself as the premier location to walk amongst an ever changing landscape.

Under the current leadership of Executive Director Joseph Madeira and Gallery Director Chester Kasnowski, the two are collaborating with artists of Vermont and national reputation to bring sculptures to Manchester and give shape to the vision of a premier sculpture collection that constantly influences and changes the landscape. Providing that cachet and already installed is the only Kenneth Noland sculpture in an outdoor sculpture park in the Northeast, "Untitled," that edges the drive to the top. Noland, known for his contemporary abstract art, sometimes with a circle as the center, or a chevron as his favored motif, this sculpture includes his signature reduced, minimalist style.

Sculptures populate the meadows and they fill the woods - the path to the front door of the SVAC is picturesque in its natural environment enhanced by sculptures in unusual settings. Plowed paths lead to and around the sculptures, inviting pedestrian traffic for personal interaction.

Guests of the art center enjoy walking amongst a colossal collection of ball and jacks - a childhood game for many - created by Vermont woodworker and metal sculptor, David Tanych. He brings fun to adults with childlike spirits. As the field grows in which the collection sets, it begs the question of whether a giant child had left its toys behind in the yard, albeit a meadow in reality. A smaller version sets along the circular drive atop the art center's grounds.

Meadows, woodlands, streams are vital elements in art and in sculpture. Pat Musick, an environmental artist, brings "The Gatekeepers" and "The Crossing" to the paths of those who walk the woods. Phil Thorne, known for his contemporary art of blending and bending aluminum and wood, just added five of his sculptures to the woodland setting at nearly every twist in the road. "The Leader of the Pack" by Wendy Klemperer hovers at the edge of the drive, stirring the imagination and inviting speculation of its three-headed directions.

Upon reaching the apex of the drive, two stainless steel sculptures from the "Stamens and Stems Exhibit" remain to entice guests further. Flanking the drive with their grace, "The Palm Tree" and "Forever Flower Fountain," are from O.Z Sculptures by Neisja and Owen Z Crawford, of Louisville, Ky., a husband and wife team.

Although a vision formed to create a landscape of outdoor sculpture, the collaboration of Madeira and Kasnowski also supports the intimate sculptures of indoor-only art. Several examples of this are inside the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum. In the lobby, are limestone-and-marble creations of Nick Santoro who melds the abstract with the organic. Three of his sculptures set the tone for guests to see the permanent collections at the Wilson Museum.


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