Solsberry Sculpture Museum to Showcase Works by U.S. Artists
If you melt five full-size pickup trucks, you might have enough metal for all of the artists who will be creating sculptures during four weeks of workshops at the Solsberry Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum.
This is what Gerry Masse, owner of the museum, said it would take to allow the more than 20 selected artists to participate in the workshops enough to cast their sculptures.
The sculpture museum opened its doors to the public for its 20th annual community aluminum casting, which took place on July 17, before some artists began their work.
“It’s the best month,” Masse said of the museum. “We have artists from all over the country coming this month.”
No matter their age or where they are from – Maine, California, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arkansas or Solsberry – each will work to create a sculpture. For the youngest, the pieces remain in the museum. This is also true for some creations of older artists, but not always.
The first week was for interns, Masse explained. They learn the proper procedures, create a piece and then help out the rest of the month as older artists, six a week, attend workshops.
After the first week with the professional artists, Masse said, 10,000 pounds of iron had already been cast. With two more weeks, he expects to pour up to 30,000 pounds of molten metal.
“It’s really magical,” Masse said of turning iron bars into artistic shapes, which has been happening since 2010 when the first cast iron sculpture workshop was held.
Currently, the open-air museum has 150 sculptures along the 3 miles of trails that cross approximately 50 acres.
Lots of sculptors come back year after year to create more, Masse said. “The wonderful thing is that all of these artists are the best of the best.” Between 50 and 60 applications are submitted each year for the six places available each week. “It’s extremely limited. It makes it special and competitive.”
But it’s the aluminum casting that gives the local community a chance to celebrate, he said.
After:Turning air into iron
“We’re showing the public a bit of the process we’re using,” Masse said. “That day we are using aluminum instead of cast iron. This year the turnout has been amazing.”
The public is always welcome to visit the open-air museum, although Masse has said he will not be able to witness any casting while the artists are working. Often, the pouring occurs late at night when it is cooler, he said.
There is one more chance for the public to witness the Cast Cast: July 31 from noon to 10 p.m. or later for the last cast of the Season Finale. Artists will work with molten iron on this day and participate in a Fire at Night iron casting.
That evening, a sculptor plans to zipline molten iron in a fire pit. At the end of the zipline, he will make a sculpture depicting the coronavirus and then detonate it, Masse said. He expects many video and social media posts as the exhibit unfolds.
“The sequelae and the scar they leave afterwards are part of the play,” Masse explained.
“At night we will pour iron into one of the wooden artist’s molds and they will explode,” Masse said, adding that the iron would rise about 40 feet in the air when it exploded from wet wood. .
The July 31 event will also feature music and food trucks. Anyone planning to attend should bring a flashlight, as the open-air museum is a dark place after the sun goes down.
Masse anticipates that many community members will be at the public event, just as they were for the aluminum casting. In addition to attending the events, Masse said he was grateful for the support from the community, including monetary donations that help defray the costs of young sculptors and food donations for the artists.
After a year of dealing with the pandemic, Masse expressed how everyone involved seemed to be “more grateful, with more passion and energy.”
“We are happy to fuel this and I am happy that the community is here to support us.”