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On the Move

On the Move: Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden a nice escape from the city

Looking for a peaceful summer stroll, a stimulating introduction to outdoor art works, a serene escape from hot pavements and crowded malls, and a great family time? You have only to travel about 3 miles from Concord’s Main Street out Pleasant Street and Hopkinton Road to treat yourself to Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden.

Here’s how to do it:

There’s a sign on the right-hand side of the road. You’ll turn right and pass a giant basket filled with boulders – the basket appears to be metal, but is instead made of maple saplings painted silver. The rocks are Styrofoam and are the work of Derryfield School teacher Andy Moerlein of Bow.

Then follow signs to a parking lot and cross the road to begin your tour, past a huge woolly mammoth made of dried twigs in a manner similar to thatched roofs in days gone by. Stroll down a gentle lawn past small statues to reach a pond where you’ll find another basket of Styrofoam boulders.

Rest on a bench by the pond to enjoy two pairs of Canada geese, their 13 goslings and two domestic geese paddling along the stream. Follow them along the stream to a fenced-in bevy of horses, grazing and playing in the field beyond. One of the horses, Allie, belongs to Pam Tarbell, owner and director of the gallery who rides her along trails in the woods when Tarbell has time. Tarbell, 70, mother of four and grandmother of six – soon to be seven – has no thoughts of retiring.

Turn to your left, away from the horses to enjoy two small perennial gardens decorated with sculptures of subjects such as angels and dolphins. Tarbell rotates the exhibits constantly, so the sculptures always vary.

“I’m here to support the artists,” she said.

High up, in the forked branches of two birch trees, is another of Moerlien’s rocks.

Tarbell is a painter herself – “in my spare time,” she said.

I particularly like her birch trees, hung on a gallery wall.

A variety of art works, from coffee mugs and silver jewelry to paintings and the larger works in the gardens, are on exhibit and for sale. The artists come from across New England, the United States and other countries. Tarbell exhibits artwork outdoors in the summer and fall, and indoors from April 1 to Dec. 24. The costs of her treasures cover a wide range of prices.

“I like to think that there’s something for everyone,” she said.

The gallery is celebrating its 18th year. Before opening the gallery, Tarbell, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, taught art in local schools. Awareness that very few parents of her students exposed their children to outdoor art was the inspiration for the Mill Brook Gallery.

In the early years, Tardiff gave art lessons at the gallery. Now it’s so busy that she doesn’t have time to do lessons, and she is also a member of the Concord Chamber of Commerce’s Creative Concord. For two years running, Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Gardens have received New Hampshire Magazine’s Best of New Hampshire Editor’s Pick award for “Immersion Art Experience.”

At the front door of the gallery, a cast-iron maiden greets you, offering a tray of cast-iron pears. Inside you’ll see pottery, paintings, fabric art and sculptures of birds – a wonderful pileated woodpecker is by the back door. There are also teapots and platters and a case filled with silver jewelry. Paintings are displayed upstairs.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibits to enjoy for the rest of the summer include “4 men 4 Botanicals,” June 6 to Aug. 24, and the 17th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, June 22 to Oct. 26.

Don’t miss the granite eagle on the way back to your car.

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