News Column

Art in the park

June 26, 2014

By Will Broaddus, The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.

June 26--At Peabody Institute Library in Danvers, enjoying sculpture is a walk in the park.

That's because an exhibit on library grounds, held for the first time last summer, has returned with 25 new works by 20 contemporary sculptors.

"We were thrilled to see everything new," said Natalie Fiore, a library trustee. "It's nice that the pieces are so different."

Last year's exhibit helped celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Barn Workshop Gallery on Maple Street, which is operated by sculptor Michael Guadagno.

It drew people from all over the country, Fiore said, who would ask her to take their pictures with the sculptures.

That positive reaction is why Guadagno was happy to organize this year's show, which runs through Sept. 19 and focuses on "Celebrating the Art of Sculpture."

"The public loved it, the library loved it, and I was willing to do it," he said. "It's a cooperative effort from all three elements."

Some of the returning sculptors appreciated the reception they got in Danvers last year and have created works just for this event, Guadagno said.

They include Barrett Kern, a Pawtucket native who won awards at Rhode Island School of Design and fashioned a piece from wood and steel called "Uberspannt."

"This is a very young artist," Guadagno said. "It's got this element of growth, lifting; it's not just spatial."

In the exhibition guide, Kern said he created this sculpture in part to memorialize his grandfather.

"The forms are reaching upwards toward the sky for him," he wrote. "He was an ornamental iron worker by trade and one whose worked I admired. This sculpture commemorates the life he lived and the skills he passed on to me."

Most of the sculptors in the show come from the six New England states, and several have exhibited or sold works around the world.

The latter group includes Gilbert Boro, who lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and has contributed a work called "Ball, Beams and Curves."

"It's very architectural; he does work for architectural settings," Guadagno said. "I like it because it encompasses space extremely well -- the curves, the lines, the floating ball in the air. If you notice the negative area, the space between the lines, it integrates the negative with the positive. It captures an open space quite well."

The works range from figurative pieces like David Millen's "Three Acrobats" and "Handstand," to more abstract work, such as Guadagno's "Balanced Color."

The latter features three glass spheres, supported on posts inside a polished steel frame that rests on legs fixed to a base.

"The focus of this is form, which is very important to me, and introducing the value of light and color," he said.

The sculptures use a range of materials, from steel and granite to plastic and plaster, and change their appearance with the daylight and weather.

"Circle Dance" by David Smalley responds to the environment directly, with steel hoops that rotate in the wind.

"It's incorporated with the surroundings," Guadagno said. "However the surroundings contribute or change with the elements, so does the sculpture.

"That's what art should do -- make you aware of the elements of nature."

He thinks the library lawn is not only a beautiful natural setting, but also an excellent public space, with plenty of exposure to people driving and walking by.

Guadagno curated the show, selecting the sculptures and arranging them on the lawn to contrast with and complement each other.

One of his key decisions was choosing a sculpture to place at the front of the lawn, in a spot near the library entrance that was occupied last year by an enormous giraffe. This summer, library visitors are greeted by an equally imposing piece by Michael Hansel, "Intestinal Fortitude."

The curved and twisting figure made of polished steel has six projecting ducts or tubes. The whole piece suggests a number of functions from nature and technology, without being limited to any one of them.

"I was trying to make a statement in terms of the attraction and value of form, independent of association with a known object," Guadagno said.

In the same way that people go to the library to learn from books and computers, he thinks they will get a visual education from walking through the exhibit.

"When people learn about art," he said, "they are no longer handicapped with the idea, 'it looks like.'"


What: "Celebrating the Art of Sculpture," outdoor exhibit by 20 contemporary sculptors

When: Now through Sept. 19

Where: On the lawn, Peabody Institute Library, 15 Sylvan St., Danvers

Admission: Free

Information: For more information, call Barn Workshop Gallery at 978-774-3042 or Peabody Institute Library at 978-774-0554


(c)2014 The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.)

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Source: Salem News (MA)

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