Friday, August 6, 2010

Inside/Outside at the Lynden Sculpture Garden closes soon!

OK, so here’s the thing: you have only two days left to see the current Inside/Outside installations by Kevin Giese and Linda Wervey Vitamas. It closes Aug. 11, but since the Gardens are open only on Sunday and Wednesday, that means two days. (I am one fan who hopes that the Garden will find the means to expand its hours soon!) But the good news is: it’s definitely worth making the time and getting there.

(Not that it’s been easy for me! I was sorry to miss both the opening and the scheduled artist tours earlier in the summer, being out of town. And then the day in July that I had set aside to visit…well, I was actually on my way there when suddenly one of those all-too-frequent deluges turned me back.)

Site specific installations, when successful, are especially intriguing because they relate to their immediate surroundings in ways that go beyond normal sculpture—and I love it when art is relational and not self-absorbed. This is true under most circumstances, but when the sites for artist’s interventions include other sculptures as well as the landscape, as is the case at the Lynden Garden, the possibilities—and challenges—increase.

Fortunately, both Giese and Vitamas were up to the challenge and produced work that is subtle, thoughtful, and well integrated with the sculptures around them.

I noticed Giese’s installation of stripped buckthorn trees immediately as I strolled across the lawn. They are perfectly situated across the pond and against a backdrop of mature pines. Their reflection in the water carries and intensifies the already wavering lines of the bare wood. Buckthorn, as Giese notes, is an invasive species (as I know well – my other blog is Urban Wilderness), which is insinuated in his title for the piece: Immigrants. The stripped trees are not the whole piece, however. Giese has created beauty out of the conceptual ugliness of invasive species; he has also planted living trees (sorry, I didn’t catch the species but I assume/hope they are native!)

Walking around the pond for a closer look reveals that the siting also creates for a striking contrast with Clement Meadmore’s monumental steel sculpture, Upstart.

Vitamas, with completely different materials and methods, has assembled a piece called Indigenous Transience that is conceptually very sympathetic with Giese’s. (This is appropriate, since the charge of the invitational Inside/Outside theme was to produce collaborative work rather than two separate works.) She uses a steel beam and unfired clay to create a work that has inherent contrasts. It would have been nice to see the piece at the opening when the simple clay pinch pots were new, but if I had to choose, I’d say now is a better time to see them after all. They have been slowly crumbling ever since (maybe not so slowly in some of our summer storms!) This results in cracked earthen, almost archeological, remains atop the intact steel.

As with Giese, this piece resonates very well with the sculptures nearby. Di Suvero’s steel Lover and John Henry’s aluminum Pin Oak are both linear and metallic, which harmonizes with Vitamas’s steel beam, while their permanence is accented by the ephemeral quality of Vitamas’s dissolving clay.

Both artists have equally fascinating work in the gallery as well. You can see them and read about the artists, on the Lynden Sculpture Garden website. You can see more of their work at their own websites:
Kevin Giese
Linda Wervey Vitamas

To see my previous post on the opening of the Lynden Garden, click here.

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