In celebration of its 30th anniversary, the Boston Sculptors Gallery is exhibiting work by all its gallery members and several of its alumni. The group is hosting concurrent shows, one at its flagship gallery on Harrison Avenue in Boston and the second at Highfield Hall & Gardens. Work by the artists can be seen both outside and inside at Highfield and, while the outdoor pieces will be on view through October 30, the 35 works inside the hall will only be on view through August 21.
“We are the only sculpture cooperative in the country that has its own gallery,” said Sally Fine of Falmouth, a founding member of Boston Sculptors. “We started with 18 artists and are now up to almost 40.”
Ms. Fine explained that because the gallery is a cooperative, and members are required to attend meetings and gallery sit, members of the group tend to be mostly from the Boston area.
Susan Lyman of Provincetown, whose sculpture hangs just opposite the reception area in the hall, is one of the artists in the cooperative who lives farther out. “We have had people from Maine and New Hampshire but mostly it’s people near Boston,” said Ms. Fine, who lived in Boston for 30 years, splitting her time between Brewster and the city before moving to Falmouth three years ago.
Ms. Fine said the collaboration between Highfield Hall and the Boston Sculptors Gallery was cemented when she brought the gallery catalogue to Joanne Ingersoll, the hall’s director of exhibitions and interpretation, and explained that the gallery was looking for a venue to host its 30th anniversary show; Ms. Fine has shown her work at Highfield on two other occasions.
Indoor sculpture can be seen on both floors of Highfield; on the landing of the grand staircase, as well as in second-floor rooms this writer had never visited before.
It’s evident early on in the exhibit that the variety of materials the artists use to create their sculpture is boundless. Gallery signage lists bronze, marble, plastic, ceramic, plaster, wood, steel, embroidery, lace, water, thread, cyanotype, paper, fiber, aluminum, cloth, LED lights, UV sensitive ink and limestone among the mediums employed by the artists.
Hanging over the grand piano is the piece “Spell Binder” by Adria Arch. Ms. Arch, a new member to Boston Sculptors, had several pieces on display in 2020 at the Cahoon Museum of American Art. This piece is similar in style to those that were hung at the Cahoon. Created in acrylic and steel, the sculpture bends both upward and downward in an abstract biomorphic form reminiscent of a friendly alien.
Another otherworldly piece, Keri Straka’s “Pierced,” hangs in the hall’s dining room. It is made of nylon, poly-fil, stoneware and thread, and looks like molecules bonded together or perhaps a bunch of garlic hung up to cure. Created from nylon in shades of pink and peach, the colors reflect the vintage wallpaper in the room and make the contemporary piece look strangely at home in the 150-year-old mansion.
On the wall and hanging in the landing space of the hall’s grand staircase are several pieces by Michelle Lougee, who crochets using plastic bags. “Her pieces are about climate change and plastics,” Ms. Fine said. “These are all microscopic diatoms. I love how they fit into the space.”
Among the artworks upstairs, visitors will find the fabric piece “Rich Kids” by Cori Champagne, a white linen dress hanging on a dress form. A cutaway in the back of the dress reveals layered underneath clothing in more earthy colors, cotton patterns that would have been worn by the staff of wealthy families, reminding viewers that “summer whites” were only possible at a time when there was staff to clean them.
“Mi Casa, Su Casa,” a detailed and precise wooden architectural sculpture by Eric Sealine, explores the concrete idea of one house catching another house on fire, but could be expanded to include thoughts and ideas catching fire and quickly spreading. In the piece, clear plexiglass “flames” extend out one side of a pleasant-looking wooden house with a farmer’s porch. Lit with LED lights, the flames glow orange and threaten a second house. In addition to “Mi Casa, Su Casa,” Mr. Sealine has a second, equally intriguing piece, “Ghost House,” in the show.
While Mr. Sealine’s perfectly created wooden houses are minimalist in their design, Zoe Friend’s sculpture “War” is described by the artist as a “maximalist piece.” The mixed-media assemblage, created from Swarovski crystals and various plastics, features a large dog painted white, with branches, beads, chains and other objects seemingly dripping from the animal’s feet and tail; its head is encircled by a halo created from plastic toy airplanes.
Jodi Colella’s piece “Olive” presents as a giant white cloud or thought bubble, with miniature doll arms sticking out of it. She is another artist who has been featured at the Cahoon Museum of Art and has also taught virtual classes at the Falmouth Art Center. The work is part of a series Ms. Colella calls her Mary Janes sculptures, inspired by what the artists calls “cultural pressure felt by many, but particularly women, whose stifling restrictions permeate into all the physical spaces of their world.”
Down the hall and around the corner on the second floor are two small rooms, both with sculptures in them. Jonathan Latiano’s “Nothing Personal And Now You’re Gone Forever” is an arresting, almost psychedelic piece, composed of a coyote skeleton standing atop a hill of stones. Both the skeleton and the stones are painted in bright, bold colors. Mr. Latiano used automotive paint and high-gloss clear acrylic finish on both the skeleton and the rocks, which accounts for their vibrant shine.
In a piece perhaps inspired by Jenny Holzer, artist Kenson Truing created a three-panel, text-and-light installation that can only been seen when ultraviolet flashlights are shown onto the wall.
Around the corner from the pieces by Mr. Truing and Mr. Latiano, artists Liz Shepherd and Suzanne Moseley have collaborated to turn an entire room into a field hospital, inspired by the pandemic and the idea that Highfield Hall could have been used as a field hospital to treat Spanish flu patients in 1918. Filling the room are six cots, covered with sheets that the artists have manipulated using either silkscreen or cyanotype, to suggest human forms lying on them. The stillness of the room, the white walls, and the imagery on the sheets work together to great effect. The two artists dedicate the work to the memory of Katherine Lillie Shepherd “and the more than one million others who have died of Covid-19.”
The show continues outside with 14 sculptures worked into the landscape of Highfield.
Occupying the spot where Patrick Dougherty’s stickwork sculpture, “A Passing Fancy,” stood for two years is the work “Seven Sprouts” by Andy Zimmermann. Mr. Zimmermann has a background in psychology as well as painting and has done work in theater and as a musician. Despite its name, in the context of Cape Cod, the tall white sculpture looks like sails billowing from an unseen ship.
Ms. Fine’s contribution to the show is at the start of the Beech Tree Path. “Because I live close by, I wanted to do something that was living and growing. I love gardening, so I brought this piece; it’s called ‘Mother Earth Eye.’ The piece uses a solar fountain to create a pupil, which is set amongst metal pieces Ms. Fine repurposed from an old radar dish to form the shape of the eye. Vines are growing up the structure that will eventually fill in the empty spaces. “It’s fun to see it change and grow,” Ms. Fine said.
Ellen Schön created “Blue Spiral,” a large totem-like work, from clay using a 3D printer. Ms. Schön’s mother, Nancy Schön, is the sculptor behind the bronze mother duck and duckling statues in Boston’s Public Garden.
Kim Bernard created a traveling recycler to turn plastic into letters for her work “Treehugger,” which encircles one of the large beech trees with colorful, cursive words and phrases such as “Reforestation,” “Biodegrade,” “Environmental Justice” and “Eat Less Meat.”
“She’s a real maverick,” Ms. Fine said about the artist. “She built this pop-up recycler that she tows behind her car and drives to workshops. She shreds #2 plastic down to microplastic, then melts and extrudes it and as it comes out of the extruder, she makes it into letters. The pop-up recycler was her COVID project.”
Ms. Bernard and her mobile plastic recycling machine visited Highfield last month for an afternoon workshop.
On the back lawn of the mansion sits “Keel of the Sun,” a 20-foot-long piece by Andrea Thompson, an alumna of the Boston Sculptors Gallery who now lives in New Hampshire. The sculpture is made of wood topped with 23-carat gold leaf. An arched balance beam of sorts, the gilding reflects the sun’s light with shimmering intensity. “You almost can’t look at it, it’s so glowing,” Ms. Fine said.
“All the artists came and had a walk-through of the hall and the grounds,” Ms. Fine said. “The artists decided what space, whether it was inside or outside, that they responded to and then came back to install or hang their piece.”
“There’s incredible diversity and a wide range of media,” she said.
Highfield Hall is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 AM to 4 PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM to 2 PM. Visitors can walk the grounds daily from dawn to dusk. Admission to the hall is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free to children under 17, active military and veterans.