art: Mary Cooke’s Katharsis.
Outside the Gallery
Bennington Art Park
Bennington, Vt., through Oct. 14
The ninth annual North Benning-ton Art Park, an outdoor sculpture
show curated by artists Anthony Cafritz, John Umphlett and
Maria Siskind, is a serene marriage of art and landscape.
Even with more than 20 artists represented, the pieces fit
comfortably together, drawing one forward, yet also allowing
time to pause and reflect on the variety of the work.
The sculptures are sited on the lawns surrounding the post
office and adjacent buildings in North Bennington in southern
Vermont. At first it seems an unlikely place for an art exhibit,
and the show begins fitfully, as if the pieces, though interesting
in their own right, haven’t settled into each other. Works
by Peter Lundberg, who is best known for his monumental works
in concrete and steel, and Natalie Pelham, whose work can
also be seen at the Lapham Gallery in Glens Falls, are glimpsed
like interesting faces at a crowded party, competing for attention.
But rounding the corner from the entrance, the show seems
to settle into itself as it moves through a series of clipped
lawns and wilder borders. The pieces build upon each other,
an accumulation of personality, approach and style. Joe Chirchirillo’s
Renovation is a daunting tower of household detritus—ducts,
bikes, a saw blade, building materials—peppered with tree
limbs, as if in the madness of keeping a home together, some
wilder elements have made their way in and become a part of
the routine chaos.
Mary Cooke’s Kartharsis is a quiet contrast, a fractured
globe knit together with metal dowels and stabbed by a rough
cone. Wrapped in an upholstered red collar, the cone, which
is accented with bits of jewelry, has a disarmingly feminine
air. Nearby, Gary Humphrey’s Conjoined is more joyful
and exuberant in a clanky, mechanical way. Two steel structures,
one topped with an asymmetrical star, reach up, joined by
connecting platforms that unite them like an aged couple in
Across the street, Liza Stevens’ Matches, fabricated
of angled steel and red papier mâché, is both an animated
look at a simple household item, or as you approach it from
the bottom of the hill on which it sits, more defiant, an
army of something more powerful and daunting punching at the
A bright-blue rain poncho hides a figure by Fred X. Brownstein,
whose figurative work has been displayed locally and in New
York City, and points the way to a third area, where Nora
Simon’s elegant piece falls over the lawn like a silver prayer
flag. A wavy arrow shoots off from a curved base, from which
hang thin filaments, like chimes. Set off against a willow
tree, the piece is both uplifting and mournful.
In another seamless transition, Michelle Vara’s Life
squats in the center of the lawn, a looping series of loose
metal turns. The piece, happily chaotic, is juxtaposed to
Chris Duncan’s tight medley of scrap metal, squatting darkly
at the border. As in the show as a whole, the pieces swing
from mood to mood, yet do so easily, setting each other off
with a variety of materials and emotions.
peripheral vision this week-