Take your pick: an apple orchard turned into a sculpture garden and other places to see outdoor art this fall
The large red frame turns visitors and the orchard itself into an art. This was the idea of Park Hill Orchard owner Russell Braen at the start of the show, which began in 2011. Jean-Pierre Pasche, a member of the orchard’s board of directors, hired a friend to build it.
“We didn’t expect it to be that big,” Pasche said. “Even the locals saw their own garden in a whole different way.”
The carefully installed open-air exhibitions benefit from a natural environment; the contrast of nature and culture makes everyone softer. At “Art in the Orchard”, “Hoo Goes There? Dave Rothstein looms out of the landscape like a Dr. Seuss creature. Look closely and you will find a family of owls made from hay.
Nearby, Daina Shobrys’ ‘Geranium’ transforms the humblest of flowers into a giant voluptuous rose flower in nylon flag fabric. It is lounging and swaying, casting shadows on the grass like any flower at the edge of the garden. Visitors to the orchard are invited to download the Otocast application for an audio tour of the exhibition. “I don’t really think geranium is the favorite flower of anyone who actually loves flowers,” Shobrys says in his recording.
“Art in the Orchard” offers a range of works, abstract, fanciful and conceptual. Other shows this fall highlight particular mediums or themes, such as fireflies. In “ALight on Mars – A Nocturnal Exhibition” at Manship Artist Residency + Studios in Gloucester, artists from the Boston Sculptors Gallery offer bright reflections on insects, climate change and the night sky.
This nighttime show requires reservations. He also calls for caution. The place – the former home and studio of Art Deco sculptor Paul Manship – sits next to two quarries. Anyone, child or adult, prone to wandering must be kept in custody.
But it’s hard to think of a more magical theme in a place called Manship called Starfield.
“Originally we thought it had to do with her love of the night sky,” MARS executive director Rebecca Reynolds said of the name. “Then his granddaughter told us that he didn’t mow his lawn until the end of July. He knew that if he mowed it earlier, the fireflies wouldn’t be able to go through their life cycle.
Leslie Wilcox’s giant fireflies, “HIGHLIGHTERS”, make a blinking mating call. Nancy Selvage’s abstract and dazzling pink touch, “Maenad”, echoes a Manship sculpture of the same name. Ellen Schön’s “Gathered Glow”, a series of ceramic lanterns, drifts and shines along a tree overlooking the quarry.
There’s an added bonus, unrelated to fireflies: MARS has an augmented reality piece by Will Pappenheimer and choreographer Sarah Slifer Swift, “Starry Interpose”.
Screen-oriented art enthusiasts will also enjoy “Seeing the Invisible,” an exhibition of augmented reality art by internationally renowned artists in a dozen botanical gardens around the world this fall, including the Gardens of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society at Elm Bank in Wellesley.
Fantasy AR can bend the space or draw viewers to places that literally don’t exist, at least not on the spot.
Chinese art star Ai Weiwei’s “Gilded Cage AR”, a giant golden bird cage, exists in real life at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. At Elm Bank, its AR version is in a sheltered area but rises high, and visitors can use their devices to walk inside. The artist said the work comments on fences and borders, but a golden cage is also a metaphor for on-screen reality, and Ai invites us directly.
On a more human scale, the “Morphecore Prototype AR” by Japanese artist Daito Manabe features a dancing figure in the garden. Each gesture is mapped from an impulse of the artist’s own brain waves, and the figure contorts in a way that no human can. Many of Elm Bank’s works invite interaction: you can photograph your children dancing with Manabe’s performer, or when you get close enough to touch “Forget Me Not” by Ori Gersht, a serene still life by a bouquet suddenly explodes. If kids tire of the screen, Weezie’s Garden for Children offers spiral paths and a tower to climb.
The most rigorous outdoor art exhibit, in terms of exercise, is “Climbing the Holy Hill” from Hancock Shaker Village, a 2.6 mile moderate to strenuous (round trip) hike with sound art, following a village trail to Pittsfield State Forest, along a path the Shakers used twice a year for worship service.
“Three hundred of them would walk four abreast, carrying seniors and children,” said Jennifer Trainer Thompson, director and CEO of Hancock Shaker Village. “When they reached the top, they worshiped ecstatically all day.”
A drawing by Allison Smith works as a spiritual, genealogical, and historical map, and the trail provides site-specific sound, which you can listen to on your phone. Our Indigenous daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell) sing anti-slavery songs about resistance and hope. Composer Brad Wells draws inspiration from Shaker’s songs and testimonies in a sung and spoken piece performed by Roomful of Teeth.
Once hikers have commune with the Shakers climbing Holy Hill, they can continue along the trail and enjoy nature’s original art installations.
ART IN THE ORCHARD 2021
At Park Hill Orchard, 82 Park Hill Road, Easthampton, until November 28. www.parkhillorchard.com/art
ALIGHT ON MARS – A NIGHT EXHIBITION
At Manship Artists Residency + Studios, 10 Leverett St., Gloucester, open weekends, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., until November 7. Advance tickets required. www.manshipartistes.org
SEE THE INVISIBLE
At Gardens at Elm Bank, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, 900 Washington St., Wellesley, until October 31, and again next spring, www.masshort.org/seeing-the-invisible
CLIMBING OF THE HOLY HILL
At Hancock Shaker Village, 1483 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield, until December 1st. www.hancockshakervillage.org/exhibitions/climbing-the-holy-hill
Haven’t seen enough? Here are more outdoor art opportunities this fall:
North Berkshire art outdoors is a 16 km self-guided walking and cycling tour along country roads organized by the Mass MoCA, the Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Museum of Art. Start at Mass MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams. www.massmoca.org/event/northern-berkshire-art-outside
The Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum has nearly 60 sculptures exhibited, including works by Andy Goldsworthy, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Jeffrey Gibson. Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. www.thetrustees.org/content/decordovasculpturepark
“Follywoods: Awe-inspiring Wee Faerie Architecture along the Artists’ Trail” presents ornamental dwellings of fairy size based on 18th and 19th century architecture. Until October 31. Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St., Old Lyme, Connecticut. www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org/wfv2021
“Land / work” The Clark Art Institute’s first outdoor art exhibit features six site-specific works of art scattered across the museum’s 140-acre pastoral campus, by artists such as Nairy Baghramian and Haegue Yang. Until October 17. Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., Williamstown. www.clarkart.edu/microsites/ground-work/exhibition