Art Review: “Exposed. 2018”, Helen Day Art Center | Art review | Seven days

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  • Photos courtesy of Helen Day Art Center / paul Rogers Photography
  • “White Forest (Duna)” by Jaume Plensa

On the lawn of Helen Day Center for the Arts, afternoon sunlight streaming through the trees stains “Intertwining”, adding a sense of movement to the already intricate sculpture. The weather-resistant steel juggernaut – 10 feet tall, 7.5 feet wide, and a few feet thick – by famed Rochester, NY artist Albert Palley lives up to its name with layers of cut-out abstract shapes. Although welded together, the almost airy pieces seem to adhere by choice, as if flying at all times was an option.

That the vagaries of natural light can make a work of art even more visually stimulating is a presupposition of “Exposed.”, the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition located at Helen Day and Stowe Village. The daily movement of the sun helps to move the shadows on and around each work. When the sculptures have moving elements, like those of the artist from Morrisville Judith Wrendaluminum painted “Here/Now”, the air itself gets involved.

And then there is the 360 ​​degree access to the works. Although large-scale sculptures inside a gallery usually allow for viewing from all sides, something about their placement outside seems to encourage passers-by to move around, interact with and touch them. . “Exposed.” makes art as accessible as a playground.

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"Here Now" by Judith Wrend - PHOTOS COURTESY OF HELEN DAY ART CENTER/PAUL ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Photos courtesy of Helen Day Art Center / paul Rogers Photography
  • “Here/Now” by Judith Wrend

That said, on a recent hot day in Stowe, many traveling visitors seemed more concerned with finding cold drinks or ice cream than looking at the artwork. Art appreciation cannot be forced. But, if asked, most would surely agree that lining the walkways with towering sculptures makes the city center more interesting, at least.

Downtown Focus: This year, construction of the Stowe Recreational Pathway precluded its use as a pedestrian gallery. Accordingly, “Exposed”. is a smaller undertaking, with just nine sculptures, down from 12, 20 and 17 respectively over the past three years.

Nervous rec path is missed. Discovering carvings among the trees or in the clearings of tall grass around the curves added surprise and more dramatic visual contrasts to the experience. And the path is quiet, allowing for a more contemplative walk than the busy main street does.

None of these considerations detracts from the achievements of the artists whose works are situated in the middle of the hubbub. The attentive viewer can still find plenty to enjoy – and then go in search of an ice cream.

Christophe YockeyThe computer-guided 3D collage of shiny stainless steel shavings on a bed of white concrete is titled “Wedding Gift”. The Detroit-born, New York-based artist says the union of two friends inspired the piece, but as a literal gift, it would be a bear to wrap. At 52 by 55 by 59 inches, the convoluted ribbons, despite being made of cold industrial materials, made this viewer think of tangled Christmas tree lights somehow standing stiff to attention.

A big head from the Barcelona native Jaume Plensa, curiously titled “White Forest (Duna)”, is also curious in materiality. Although described as bronze, the 77.5 x 43.25 x 40 inch piece looks like white painted wood. The base resembles a slice of tree trunk, with crenellated bark and cracks. But if the fabrication is disconcerting, the subject is not: this androgynous model is serene, eyes closed in meditation, a contemporary bodhisattva imperturbable in the fray. Plensa has implanted similar, and much larger, heads and figures around the world.

If Plensa’s sculpture says, “Be here now,” John Matusz’s untitled steel and rock work says, “Stop here just now.” The play is solidly physical, a sculptural linebacker. In an artist statement, Matusz calls his work “a framed piece of landscape.” An unusually shaped, unpolished boulder is supported by a sign-like structure – steel base, vertical post and square “frame” 79 inches high. The Vermont artist pays homage to the earthly beauty of a giant, ancient boulder – and perhaps suggests this bulwark will outlive us all.

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"Interlace" by Albert Paley - PHOTOS COURTESY OF HELEN DAY ART CENTER/PAUL ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Photos courtesy of Helen Day Art Center / paul Rogers Photography
  • “Intertwined” by Albert Paley

“Exposed.” curator Rachel Moore hasn’t given up on a sense of playfulness. Ted Ceraldi“Gravity” of welded, bolted and painted steel is a 120 inch high pyramid with a 72 inch square base. It catches the eye at the junction of Main Street and Mountain Road. But its title is ironic: a large red-painted sphere – also made of steel – perches near the tip of a triangular side with the apparent ease of a clown’s nose. Although Ceraldi’s enigmatic artist statement speaks of the “current condition of humanity”, this work reads more as having fun with geometry – and seeming to defy a physical law.

In the same way, Chris Curtis did an “impossible” thing in “Paleo Puzzle”. The Stowe carver cut a 54 x 28 x 28 inch piece of stone into three puzzle pieces, polished the interior surfaces and stacked them. Sitting on a circular steel base, this work invites the viewer to survey all of its faces and to decipher how it was made.

While making a physical reference to a game, Curtis also assigns cosmological significance to his puzzle. “This sculpture, like most of my work, is about examining the context of humans in the world,” he wrote in an artist statement. “By this I mean not only the physical world of today, but also the temporal context of Homo sapiens across geologic time scales.”

Back on Helen Day’s lawn, David Stromeyer“Slice Rock” might suggest something similar if it weren’t painted steel. The purely physical aspect of Stromeyer’s work, widely exhibited in his Cold Hollow Sculpture Park in Enosburg Falls, is astonishing here too. The roughly organic shape and claw-like “handles” suggest a humble, handmade object. Yet “Slice Rock” is massive: 111 by 105 by 129 inches. It is both familiar and strange, innocuous and threatening.

A second sculpture from Paley to Helen Day, a more compact assemblage than “Interface”, consists of stacked columns and coiled ribbons of black-painted steel. Its name is “Portal”. And this seductive word could represent the whole invitation of this exhibition to the public: to enter, to see, to be exhibited.