Showing at Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth as part of the Boston Sculptors Gallery’s 30th anniversary is an exhibition of 50 pieces of the genius of these artists, diverse in race, class, gender, styles and media. (Many of the pieces are for sale.) It’s a mind-boggling burst of talent almost too much to take in at one go.
You can take an hour’s stroll outdoors through enchanted wild woods and formal gardens, and then cool off indoors for part of the exhibit — which is on two floors of the high ceilinged, antique 19th century Queen Anne mansion. The indoors exhibit ends August 21, the outdoors one on October 30.
Starting with an homage to a fallen ancient beech tree by Ed Andrews, constructed of a tower of rusted laddered steel, with live sapling atop, the path takes you past a centerpiece of story-high white aluminum structures by Andy Zimmermann, “Seven Sprouts.” It, like all the pieces in the show, no two of which are alike, prompts you to bring your own sensory experience to it. Is it huge blades of grass, whales, birds?
Down the path shaded by 150-year-old beech trees, one of which has a set of silvered intermingled trunks so sculptural in themselves at first you wonder if they are manmade, you will see an asymmetrically red-gated garden with wee water fountain, “Mother Earth Eye,” by Sally S. Fine, to remind you of damage we have done to earth and sea, and the possibility of regeneration nonetheless.
Between the sculptures, lurk fairy houses, which have been an alternate-year tradition at Highfield since the mid-1990s. One looked like a cookie monster from afar to my eyes but is a cake/house close up. Another is a mega manse made of bark and tree trunk, adjacent to fanciful chandeliers, entitled “Party Girls,” by Christina Zwart, hanging on a beech branch to remind us how precarious are the works of man compared to those of nature. (Or is it nature which is precarious because of man’s works?)
Recycled plastic in “Treehugger” by Kim Bernard spells out words around another elegiac beech trunk: “climate change, reforestation, eat less meat.” Passing butterfly bush’s purple spokes, rhododendrons, and black-eyed Susans, there is Andrea Thompson’s “Keel of the Sun,” 20-foot-long layered and laminated wood, topped with 23 carat gilding, made to reflect the path of the sun, a spectacular piece in its archaic, almost Mayan, yet modern, simplicity. These are just a few of the outdoors treats.
Inside there are a dozen or so original pieces downstairs, with a plethora of treasures upstairs.
To mention just a few of the artists included on the second floor: Jodi Colella, known for mixed media phantasmagoria using everything from taxidermy to wire, doilies, and embroidery has a piece entitled “Olive”: for you to figure out in its relation to women’s bodies and garden sculpture. Andy Moerlein’s geological sculptures are man, making nature; “4 a.m.” on a fireplace mantel piece, of red oak and plywood, seems to be lava turning into humans. Cori Champagne, who uses clothing-based installations to express the human condition, is represented here, as is Peter DeCamp Haines, with a tall totem in bronze resembling stone.
Also upstairs, Nancy Selvage’s “SEAMERGENCY,” takes up a wall where a perforated aluminum, polycarbonate undersea creature meets an investigative bell buoy, in a connection lit by LEDs.
Perhaps the piece de resistance is “War,” by Zoe Friend, a rococo, Rottweiler-sized frieze, a dog of war of mixed media assemblage, Swarovski crystals and plastic botanicals. Pale as a rider of apocalypse, with a feel of blown glass, she creates a fantastical, complex, compelling mythos.
On the first floor, Julia Shepley’s 5-foot long “rhythmic hinged” “Carry,” seems more like a fragile sleigh of dreams to the sky rather than the medical stretcher she says it expresses. (Many of the pieces differ between what the artist conceives, and what the audience receives.) Donna Dodson’s half woman, half bird, maple-wood fetish-like piece (about as high as from knee to hip), one of a series expressing astrological symbology of east and west — and Roya Amigh’s “Discussion Panel,” a crumpled, parchment-like paper with embroidery of, “I’m going to talk about abortion,” exemplify the wide range from wit to wisdom of this exhibition.
(The artist reception for “Boston Sculptors at 30!” in Falmouth takes place on August 1 from 4-6 p.m. at Highfield Hall & Gardens, 56 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, Massachusetts; pre-registration is required: call (508) 495-1878 ext. 2 or sign up through the link at https://highfieldhallandgardens.org/event/public-artist-reception-for-boston-sculptors-at-30/. Summer Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.).