LandARTLab: 1 Farm, 19 Artists, 5 Photos

Meg Brazill and I keep crossing paths. She covers art for the newspaper Seven Days, and is a docent at the Hall Art Foundation in Reading. Recently, I learned that she co-curated this year's outdoor sculpture exhibition, LandARTLab, at the King Farm in Woodstock. I posed 5 questions to Brazill about this spectacular show set in the autumn air and green hills of Vermont. Put on your Wellies and bring a snack.

1. Is this the first year for LandARTLab, and what is behind the name? 
This is the first year the outdoor sculpture exhibit at King Farm has been called LandARTLab, but there has been a sculpture exhibit there for a number of years. LandARTLab is an extension of SculptureFest, which has been exhibiting work for 33 years on Prosper Road in Woodstock. A walking trail connects LandARTLab with SculptureFest. SculptureFest opens in early summer, usually around July 1, and is curated by Charlet and Peter Davenport. LandARTLab opens on Labor Day and is curated separately--this year by artist Jay Mead and me.

Visual Playground by Marek Jacisin

Jay Mead and I see this land and its buildings as an amazing tableau to showcase art that is experimental and engages with the buildings and landscape of this special place. This is an opportunity for artists to try new directions and use this place as a creative lab. Artists site their work according to the topography or an existing building space. Some of the sculptures make use of old farm buildings or reference them in the work itself. It is also, in a sense, a laboratory for introducing people to sculpture beyond museum walls.

2. How did you come to curate this show, and what were you looking for? 
The Davenports knew the original owners of King Farm and, when it became a Vermont Land Trust property, they worked with VLT to exhibit outdoor sculpture there. In recent years, Charlet wanted to invite others to curate King Farm. 

This year, Charlet and Jay approached me and I jumped at the opportunity to be involved. We were looking for artists who could use their art to make us think about the land differently or call our attention to it in a different way. Artists who would surprise us with their work. Artists who understand the demands that outdoor sculpture requires. 

Kela, held by Otto Pierce and Tracy Penfield

3. What is the process in selecting artists? 
We didn't use a formal process. We invited artists who had previously exhibited at King Farm or SculptureFest and whose work had a strong sense of place. We asked them to choose a site or sites and tell us about their concept. In addition we sought out other artists whose work spoke to us and seemed like it would resonate with the place. Charlet had a number of people she recommended and we also asked artists to recommend other artists. We did feel it was important for artists to be able to work independently and without the expectations of having staff available to help. Sometimes artists will camp on the land as they complete their installation.

Jay Mead's Attraction references farm buildings on the site.

4.  Any reactions by viewers to a particular piece or to the show as a whole? 
It was terrific to be there for the opening -- which was a gorgeous day -- and see about 200 people roaming everywhere. People didn't want to miss anything. There was a lot of excitement about Cristina Salusti and Jeffrey Simpson's work, "En Plein Air" that consists of a variety of "windows" and "chairs" that created a new viewpoint for seeing the landscape. (Featured photo, above.) The frames can actually be turned 360 degrees by the wind or you can turn them by hand. The artists wrote that, "The windows, picture frames and chairs are from buildings that are no longer standing.  In a sense each “frame” has a memory which may express itself through the view." I thought that was a great way of saying it. I've heard great things about all of the work on exhibit.

Charlet Davenport's Gilding the Lily 

Several groups of school children have come for long days. Artist Murray Ngoima met with about 90 students from an area school and spent time showing them what had already been created and then they went to work making their own. Everyone left happy! 

5What do people need to know about visiting the exhibition? 
People are encouraged to view the sculptures, walk the land, and bring a picnic. Children are welcome. Dogs must be on a leash. Park at King Farm, 128 King Farm Road,  Woodstock, Vt. (No parking on Prosper Rd.) LandARTLab is open to the public, dawn to dusk, through November. No admission charge.

(Participating artists include Mary Admasian, Ethan Ames, Barbara Bartlett, Brenna Colt, Edith Crocker, Charlet Davenport, Nira Granott Fox, Susie Gray, Rachel Gross, Margaret Jacobs, Marek Jacisin, Jay Mead, Mary Mead, Murray Ngoima, Tracy Penfield, Otto Pierce, Cristina Salusti, Jeffrey Simpson, and Jamie Townsend. Responses to questions have been edited for length and clarity. Photos by Colleen Bozuwa, used with permission of Meg Brazill and LandARTLab)
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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge

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