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Art Review


EXHIBIT:"Exposed," an annual outdoor show featuring 21 sculptures by local and national artists on the gallery lawn, along Main Street and on the Stowe Bike Path. Helen Day Art Center, Stowe. Through October 1.

ARTWORK:"Passageway #82," by Bruce Hathaway

Renaissance sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini sounded like a 20th-century Dada artist when he wrote, "All works of nature created by God in heaven and on earth are works of sculpture." The notion that everything three-dimensional can be considered sculpture is hard to dispel. But a visit to the Helen Day Art Center's annual "Exposed" show of outdoor sculpture highlights the distinction between art and environment. Art, nature and the human environment are separate entities that overlap each other in the best of outdoor sculpture. Site and context are essential considerations.

This year's "Exposed" show includes the works of 17 sculptors in a wide array of media. It seems a little more compact than in previous years, with fewer far-flung works along the Stowe Recreational Path and more clustered on the Helen Day's grounds.

The furthest afield is Kate Pond's "Great Circle #2." The work is a group of flat concrete slabs - circles, squares and rectangles - organized in a straight line, about 100 feet long, that spells out "Let Be" in Morse code. Her reference to "circle" in the title refers to the meridian lines of longitude and latitude geographers have circled around our planet.

It's interesting that several of this year's artists thought in terms of maps and directions. Perhaps the confluence occurs from feeling that the country is going in the wrong direction?

Brigid Vorce's "Why Follow" directly addresses humans' herd mentality. Like Pond's plea in Morse code, the Massachusetts artist's playful contribution to the show is made up of concrete stepping stones. Vorce arranged 14 arrows, each one about a yard long, in a circuitous route on the Art Center's lawn.

Belvedere artist Kathryn Vigesaa constructed a weird optical instrument and dubbed the 12-foot, aluminum telescope-like object "Sight Line." Viewers who peer into its eyepiece are treated to an array of ever changing videos. Vigesaa's aim is to draw attention to the "details of our environment that are so often missed because we only focus on the big picture." The videos present rivers, woods, a flock of winging geese and underwater scenes, in a continuous loop.

Thea Alvin of Morrisville and Richmond's Bruce Hathaway were both inspired by architectural portals. Hathaway's welded aluminum "Passageway #82" looks like a pair of saplings curving in a wind. They form half an arc, tilting to the right, and are made up of curved spindles, each about 40 inches long. In his artist statement, Hathaway notes, "The curved elements are offset in such a way that the viewer can connect chains or line flows as the work is seen from different angles." The piece has very clear vertical movement regardless of your point of view; no one would think it's burrowing instead of rising.

"Bicycle Arch" by Thea Alvin of Morrisville has been constructed in close proximity to a bike rack beside the recreational path. The arch of junked bikes measures about 10 feet wide and six feet tall. Cellini might have smiled if he could have seen the juxtaposition. Few see more than functionality in a full bike rack; yet who can deny that an arch organized from a jumble of bikes is a strong and engaging piece of art? The design elements - bikes - of rack and arch are the same, but the sculptor's vision reshuffled those elements into art.

Another Alvin "Bicycle Arch" is appearing on Pine Street in Burlington as part of this weekend's South End Art Hop.