Spectacular new sculpture exhibit at Bridge Gardens makes a perfect day trip to the Hamptons
They come from as near as Sagaponack and Water Mill, and as far as Santa Fe, New Mexico. On June 23, under sunny skies with a light breeze, the gentle tones of wind chimes were interchanged with the regular, rhythmic mechanical sounds of flatbed trucks and cranes carefully placing several large-scale sculptures on the grounds of the Bridge Gardens of five acres on Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. It was one of the last installation days of the “Uncommon Ground IV” exhibit, which will showcase the work of 14 internationally renowned sculptors from June 26 through Labor Day weekend 2022.
The exhibition is a collaborative partnership between John vH Halsey, President of Peconic Land Trust, Garden Director Rick Bogusch and Curator Cheryl Sokolwo of C Fine Art. Bridge Gardens is open to the public daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with free admission. On Fridays in summer, the gardens are open until dusk. (Sculptures are also offered for sale, with the proceeds going to Bridge Gardens.)
The presence of the large-scale contemporary outdoor sculpture collection on the scenic grounds, which includes carefully cultivated herb and perennial gardens, vegetable beds, native plants, community garden plots and an array of ‘trees and shrubs spread over a hilly terrain and inviting landscape – gives potential visitors an added incentive to take a trip. Entering the park feels like being transported to another time and place, where there is an interplay between the elements of natural and organic growth and a more cultured aesthetic.
Cheryl Sokolow had this balance in mind when she originally curated the exhibition, which had its first iteration in 2011. Sokolow, owner and director of C Fine Art, founded the Uncommon Ground exhibition series as a way to make large-scale sculpture more accessible to the community.
This goal was certainly achieved, and Sokolow and Bridge Gardens Outreach Director Kathy Kennedy were excited about the return of the exhibit to the Gardens, which are affiliated with the Peconic Land Trust. Bridge Gardens is a stewardship project of the Trust, which strives to conserve working farms and nationally historically significant lands on Long Island. In addition to hosting the Uncommon Ground exhibit on a number of occasions, the gardens regularly serve as a multi-purpose outdoor classroom and also feature a demonstration garden, two features that make it a valuable community resource.
Sokolow spoke about the exhibit’s curatorial process on June 23, walking through the park alongside Kennedy, while closely monitoring the work in progress to put the final pieces in place.
“The work focuses on the kind of sculpture that I would consider organic and naturalistic in a way, rather than narrative,” she said, as she stood near the work of Kevin Barrett, Guided Spirit, a large brushed stainless steel sculpture on a raised black base that was created for the exhibition.
Barrett, like most of the sculptors involved in the exhibit, has worked with Sokolow for many years and has been a part of Uncommon Ground since its inception. This year, for the first time, he will present his work alongside his brother, Alex Barrett, and their father, the internationally renowned sculptor Bill Barrett, based in Santa Fe, who still creates at the age of 86. and Kevin Barrett’s other work currently at the Gardens, Sundance, fits naturally into the surroundings, and Sokolow said the artists deserve recognition for creating this natural symbiosis.
“They’re made to work really well with the framework we have here,” she said. “They are lyrical, but also strong, lasting and everlasting. They imitate the garden a bit in their representation. The whole idea is a game between the garden, which is both artificial and organic, as echoed by the sculptures, which are also artificial but also organic. There is this play between what is natural and what is created.
One of the pieces that perhaps speaks the best of this thematic unit is Norman Mooney’s Butterfly, one of the many pieces he has as part of Uncommon Ground IV. The sculpture is well displayed in the middle of a circular garden cultivated with shrubs and plants. This is among several site-specific installations, where the sculptors take special care so that the piece fits naturally into the environment of Bridge Gardens.
Sokolow was excited about several other sculptors who will be exhibiting work at Bridge Gardens for the first time. Gino Miles has also traveled from Santa Fe with his sculpture, Shelter, a bronze spiral piece, while Harry Gordon shows his piece, Grasshopper, a large granite sculpture.
The exhibition will also feature works by several local sculptors. Hans van de Bovenkamp, who has a piece titled ** in the exhibit, has ubiquitous works in the Bridgehampton area and Joel Perlman, who has two sculptures in the exhibit, has a studio in Water Mill.
“I have a long relationship with Cheryl and also with the gardens, and I know how wonderful the work is there, and how important it is to have a good fit between the site and the sculpture, and Cheryl is very good at doing it, “said Perlman.” And I love participating with my buddies, and a lot of them are in the show. It’s almost besides being an artistic thing, like a gathering, because we had not all seen each other since the start of the pandemic. ”
Sculptors all agree that showing their work at Bridge Gardens is a valuable opportunity. Kevin Barrett, who is based in Massachusetts, has brought pieces to the show from the start and said he’s always eager to return.
“I really believe it’s important that work takes place in an environment like this,” he said. “A lot of museums don’t have the space to do these kinds of shows, so it’s really unique. It is beneficial for all of us, because the hardest part is making people see the work. And Cheryl has a good eye. Other sculptors featured in the exhibition include Richard Heinrich, Robert Perless, Carole Eisner, David Hayes, Steve Zaluski, and Peter Rosenthal.
While social gathering options have grown dramatically over the past few weeks and months, the exhibit – spread across five beautiful and socially remote acres – represents a safe and almost therapeutic way to engage with art and culture. natural world, said Sokolow and Kennedy.
“Bridge Gardens has truly been a resource for people throughout Covid,” Kennedy said. “We have had a lot of visitors over the past year, and exhibiting sculptures here only adds to the interest factor you should visit.”
Partnering with the arts is something the Peconic Land Trust has been doing for years, she added. “We believe that art is a natural part of the experience of nature. We are delighted that the exhibition is here for a long time. It can give everyone a chance to experience it more than once.