Manchester artist Musick launches show at Helmholz

MANCHESTER — In 2013, local artist Pat Musick created a series of collages for a show in Montpelier when she was honored with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Seemingly, those pieces, which will go on display in a solo show at Helmholz Fine Art with an opening reception starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, are about autumn in Vermont.

But the medium and the meaning go quite a bit deeper, as Musick explained.

"I see these trees as a metaphor for the aging process," said Musick, now 91 and in the midst of writing a book. "The human being also sheds over a period of time, but the heart and soul remain strong, like the trunk of a tree."

The inspiration came from a tree in the yard of Equinox Terrace, where Musick lives with her husband, retired astronaut Jerry Carr.

"I particularly liked the shape," she said. " I watched a couple weeks of leaves falling and that really inspired me."

She was also inspired by a passage from "Wedding," a poem recited by the main character in Boris Pasternak's novel "Doctor Zhivago:"

"For life is only an instant, too,

Only the dissolving

Of ourselves, like the giving of a gift,

Into all the others."

But the deeper meaning doesn't stop with comparisons between birth, life and death in nature and in humanity. For the series of seven collages, Musick chose mediums that are all connected to trees. The drawings are in charcoal; the leaves are made of kozo, a handmade Japanese paper sourced solely from the mulberry tree.

"If you're looking at the picture," she said, "it has small dark flecks in it. Those are actual pieces of mulberry tree. For me, they amplify feelings of leaves floating in the fall wind."

Musick is an accomplished artist with showings to her credit including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Toledo Museum, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Huntsville Museum of Art and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, Missouri. Last year, The Sculpture Ranch in Johnson City, Texas mounted a retrospective show featuring 25 years of Musick's work. A solo show is planned for next year at the Bennington Museum, she said.

Her 65-foot piece at Crystal Bridges, which pays tribute to the Cherokee people who endured the Trail of Tears, is an example of how she and Carr collaborate on her art.

"He does all of my engineering, he examines the drawings and ideas and then creates the internal structure to make sure they have integrity," Musick said of Carr. "He also does some work in building of the wood structures and finishing of the wood. So Jerry now gets to sign his name and when we work, we work as a team."

Musick has been showing her work at Helmholz Fine Art for the past few years, and gallery owner Lisa Helmholz-Adams curated the show, which features the collages as well as sculpture pieces.

It's still an emotional experience for Musick to have her work selected for a show, she said.

"It's an awesome experience. I'm thrilled every time it happens."

Reach Greg Sukiennik at 802-490-6000.


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