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Upcoming Exhibitions: Andy Goldsworthy at the DeCordova Sculpture Park

July 7, 2011 in American Art, Andy Goldsworthy, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Massachusetts Travel, Uncategorized

Image courtesy of Andy Goldsworthy

I was introduced to the art of Andy Goldsworthy when I was eight years old. I was staying at a friend’s house overnight for a giggly, girly sleepover that we expected to last all night. After my friend fell asleep earlier than anticipated, I began looking through the books on her parent’s coffee table. I was a little bit restless and slightly homesick, but quickly forgot such pressing issues and focused on the pages in front of me, which were covered with familiar items arranged in entirely unfamiliar ways. I may not have remembered the artist’s name, but I can recall those images vividly. The book was unlike the science books my parents owned, unlike the big encyclopedias we had lying around. Even as a kid, I could tell the photos in it were something special.

I find it unsurprising that my first foray into contemporary art came by way of coffee table, especially considering Goldsworthy’s massive popularity. The Boston Globe’s Sebastian Smee recently called him “one of the most popular artists alive,” and wrote about the very same glossy pages I once poured over in the quiet hours of the night. “Goldsworthy’s works are known to art lovers — and millions who would never willingly go by that description — largely through his handsome books, which reproduce sumptuous photographs of his installations in picturesque natural settings. You find these books on the coffee tables of bankers, lawyers, journalists, farmers, and teachers all over the world. They are ridiculously seductive, disarmingly emotional.”

Seductive is the right word for Goldsworthy’s work. While beautiful, it also carries a touch of the uncanny. According to Freud, the uncanny is that which we can recognize, yet still feel is slightly off. Many translators have given a literal interpretation of the German word as “unhomely,” and though they don’t carry the connotations of Freud’s recognition, Goldsworthy’s installations are often un-homey. They exist in situations we can easily recognize—beach, woods, lake—but reveal patterns and a sense of artistry that does not truly belong in nature. While the artist’s interference is visible in every piece, it always feels slightly disguised by the natural materials and simple shapes. Undeniably lovely, Goldsworthy’s works also contain elements that are at once eerie and dramatic.

While I’ve admired his pieces for years, I have never had the chance to see them in person until this spring, when the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, opened their new exhibit Snow. Featuring a small cross-section of Goldsworthy’s work, including a collection of the aforementioned photographs, two large snowball drawings, and the video, the collection serves as an introduction to the upcoming large-scale Sculpture Park installation. The massive granite structure, aptly-titled Snow House, is still in its beginning stages, but the deCordova Museum hopes to have it on view by winter 2013.

Though we have some time before we can see the permanent structure, it sounds as though Snow House will be worth the wait for Goldsworthy’s fans. The piece will be interactive and continually changing, much like the natural phenomena that inspire his work. “Andy’s going to create in our sculpture park — sort of dug into the hillside — a granite-lined chamber, big enough to walk into,” Capasso described in an interview with WBUR, “and every winter when it snows our staff and various community groups will create a nine-foot diameter snowball inside this piece of architecture.”

The deCordova is still seeking help funding the project. Interested parties can donate to the artistic cause online or by calling Catalina Rojo, the museum’s Development Coordinator.

Edward Gorey's Creepy Cape Cod

October 18, 2010 in American literature, Dark New England, Edward Gorey, Feature articles

All Images Licensed by Edward Gorey Charitable TrustReading this week’s feature article, on Edward Gorey’s creepy Cape Cod, I was put in mind of a book I once saw during one of my many trips to upstate New York.

I first went to visit the Clermont mansion in Germantown, New York in the winter of 2008.  I had gone to see the impressive grounds, which boast a beautifully manicured garden and a breathtaking view across the Hudson River.  Unfortunately, the weather was not amenable to strolling around, so I wound up being forced inside to examine the relics of a family long dead.

This turned out to be an unexpected blessing.  The old house was filled with fascinating artifacts, including a very old, very famous portrait of Andrew Jackson.  My favorite item, however, was (naturally) a large, leather-bound book.  Kept safe under its layer of glass, the book was opened to a page depicting a small girl in several different situations.  In the first, she tucked a poker into the fire.  In the second, she leaned closer.  In the third, she ran as her dress spread out behind her, ablaze with orange flames.  The moral?  Don’t play with fire.

This was, surprisingly, a children’s book.  Back when it was written, childhood was seen as a dangerous time, filled with unexpected perils.  Death was always around every corner.  Nowadays, we tend to favor happy books with happier endings, though this was not always the case.

Perhaps this is why Edward Gorey is one of my favorite children’s authors, along with Roald Dahl.  Both realized that childhood was not always fun and games; sometimes it felt dark and dangerous.  Their works don’t coddle children or shelter them from the world.  Instead, they recognize the weirdness of being a kid, the sense that everything is bigger and more threatening than most adults would like to admit.

Join us this week as we examine the life and works of Edward Gorey in our latest feature article, A Brief History of Edward Gorey’s Creepy Cape Cod, part two of our Dark New England series.

(An LT extra, check out a review of the Hudson Valley’s Pumpkin Blaze!)

Fall Rituals: Apple Picking In Stow, Massachusetts

October 12, 2010 in Massachusetts Travel, New England Travel, Uncategorized, Weekend Getaways

Image via canong2fan's Flickr streamFor as long as I can remember, autumn has always been my favorite season. I love Halloween, the lengthening evenings, and the way dead leaves crunch underfoot. I love the colors of New England fall, all blazing reds and oranges and the clear blue of the October sky. I love back-to-school shopping and donning wool scarves. But what I love most is the smell.

Fall air smells like nothing else in the world. Somehow, the fallen and decaying leaves and the growing cold conspire to turn the atmosphere into something wonderful. Something that smells not of death, but of rebirth.

In my opinion, the best place to experience the scents of fall is in an apple orchard. Apple picking has become something of a fall tradition for me. Every year as September draws to a close, I throw on my jacket and head to Shelburne Farm in Stow, Massachusetts.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of introducing my boyfriend to Shelburne Farm. The orchard seemed seeped in the spirit of Autumn as we wandered among the manicured rows, stopping occasionally to pluck some imperfect specimen from the branches (several of which we ate immediately, in a violation of orchard rules). We climbed into the trees on the spindly ladders, pulling down fruit that ranged from under-ripe and sour to sweet and crisp. For $17, we went home with a giant bag of Macintoshs, Cortlands, and Royals, which Garrett promptly baked into pies and crumbles. We also picked up some cider donuts at the Farm Stand, where they doled them out in half-dozens, piping hot out of the fryer. Before we left, we even made a quick pit stop to visit the sheep at the small but smelly petting zoo.

We went home happy and full. It was one of those perfect New England days–and a wonderful way to ring in the new season. It never truly feels like fall until I’ve bagged that first batch of local apples.

So that’s my fall ritual, but I’d love to hear: What’s yours?

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