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Last modified: 7/5/2012 12:00:00 AM
It doesn't happen everywhere. But in at least one unusual place ancient behemoths still dot the landscape. Dogs wear their bones on their sleeves and boulders make good cargo for teeny, tiny boats.

This topsy-turvy world is all part of the 15th Annual Outdoor Invitational Sculpture Exhibit, which runs at the Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden through Oct. 18. The work of 36 sculptors from across New England and New York will be on display on the gallery's sprawling grounds.

'I think people who say they don't like contemporary art, when they walk around the sculptures and they see how it's made and the shadows and often the images, they get a different point of view of contemporary art,' said Pamela Tarbell, owner and curator of the gallery. 'And people do, they really enjoy it.'

Tarbell said this year's show is 'undoubtedly the best one' so far and boasts a wide variety of media including steel, stainless steel, bronze, aluminum, twigs and more. She said the exhibit includes some of the best sculptors on the East Coast.

'I have some sculptors who are well-known,' Tarbell said, 'but also some who are new and just finishing up their master's who are really excellent. So it's not just the people who have been out working for 30 years, it's also bringing new people along, which is also very nice.'

And it's important to do that, she said, not only to achieve a good variety, but also in the interest of helping people get established in their artistic careers.

'It's what I love to do,' Tarbell said.

One of the highlights of the show will be

new work from Bob Shannahan, known locally as the creator of the Wooly Mammoth and other prehistoric animals still featured on the grounds. He will be returning with yet another wild creature from the past.

Andy Moerlein of Bow will display his piece entitled 'Suspense,' which is a depiction of a tiny, rickety boat holding large boulders. The piece is made from a mix of coiled wire, sapling and rock.

'One of the things I'm thinking about is vessel spacing and possibly situations,' Moerlein said. 'So here you've got this boat that's fragile and impossible, holding this huge volume of boulders so it's preposterous, it's frightening, it's intriguing, it's astonishing. And those are all really important parts to what I try to do with this piece.'

Massachusetts artist Dale Rogers also has pieces in the show. He said the nice thing about his works, which include two abstract towers and one 'American Dog,' is that it showcases the breadth of his creations.

'My love for sculpture personally is abstract-geometric,' he said. 'But there has been a big demand for the 'American Dog' and the figurative work that I do. Not to say that I don't love it, but my real love is abstract. So it's nice that those three pieces give you the flavor of what I do.'

The work of several other regional and international sculptors, including John Weidman, Rob Lorenson, Murray Dewart, Michael Alfano and Chris Williams (creator of the life-size moose at the Manchester International Airport) is only on display.

Tarbell said that children are welcome to participate, especially in the cultural display 'Where Art and Nature Meet.'

'They can run around and have a good time and touch things,' she said. 'It's not a museum. It's hands-on.'

Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden is located at 236 Hopkinton Road in Concord. All events are free and open to the public.

For information, call 226-2046 or visit themillbrookgallery.com.


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