Sunday in the (sculpture) Park with Judith Ann
When I was a kid, Sunday went like this: Dad’s pancakes early, church, then head home to read the funnies and await mom’s chicken and dumplings. Perhaps a ride in the country, six of us crammed into our grey Chevy with our Irish Setter drooling out the window. Of parks and sculptures we knew not. A rolling landscape dotted with cows, corn and farm equipment was what we got.
Now I’m not a kid. Oct. 9 went like this: Sunday in the Lynden Sculpture Garden, once known as the Bradley Sculpture Garden. Formerly, folks gathered here once a year to admire mega-sculptures and the polyester and fiberglass cows by Swiss sculptor Samuel Buri, grazing near a lake on 40 acres.
The point of Dressing the Monument is to add enchantment to the lush, rolling grounds. On a day blazing with color, I’m under a spell, sitting in the black camping chair positioned near a desk fashioned from a slab of wood. Open Air Writing Desk, as conceived by Robbins (himself a writer), is beauty enough for any day. Would that I could write my review in this very spot.
Over there, tiny yellow butterflies dance near the skeleton of a rusting farm machine. It reminds me of my past. On a gentle knoll, where the ashes of Bradley dearly departed allegedly rest, sits a man with a shopping cart. Should I draw near to what seems, from a distance, to be someone frozen in time? I approach, but with caution. The man, a mannequin wearing a wig, sneakers and socks, hat, jeans, shirt (from a law office), hooded sweatshirt, tweedy dark jacket with a hole (and a pocket filled with bits of this and that), sits on a bench, his head turned to gaze westward, expecting perhaps the worst of winter blasts. His hands are gloved, but the gloves have no fingers, perhaps to better gather recyclables for the cart. The stellar work of John Miller and Richard Hoeck, A Better Coat than Mine makes a strong statement about being alone, without a home, and being not quite real to passersby. Someone has left three quarters and one dime in his right hand. Three women pass without stopping. They wave and laugh, but from a distance.
Earlier, my escort, artist Tom Kovacich, floated floated on the wings of a swell swing constructed from iron, steel, cable and fasteners by Madison & Muller. He swung on another Madison & Muller fantasy, a hammock sited at the entrance to a wooden bridge. Inside the elegant Bradley house, Madison & Muller light up the gallery. These two are all about the lightness of being, or so it seems. Their work is the exact opposite of the lone plastic man with 85 cents in hand.
These are just a few of many wonders at Lynden. Though I’ve visited the garden frequently, each return confirms the power of art. Immigrant, 2010 (hand-carved buckhorn wood, copper and living buckthorn trees), is the finest of Kevin Giese. Listed as “temporary,” I hope it’s in place for eternity. I’ve said that before, and I say it again.
For further information, visit the Lynden’s website.