Downtown: City council to choose some art for Concord – and where to put it

  • Running Deer, 2010, steel(Glimpse: eight sculptures donated to the City of Portland Public Artby William HamillPermanently installed at the Portland International Jetport)

  • “Songbird Gate” by Murray Dewart is one of several pieces of art up for consideration to be displayed in downtown Concord. Courtesy

  • CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: “Cultured Stone” by Antoinette Prien Schultze; “Just Swimmingly” by David Smus; “Running Deer” by Wendy Klemperer; “Shimmy” by Gary Haven Smith; Unnamed by Beverly Benson Seamans; “One Bright Morning” by Murray Dewart; and (center) “Elk Grazing” by Wendy Klemperer. These sculptures are being presented to Concord’s city council as potential art installations on Main Street. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 9/11/2016 11:49:53 PM

What sort of public art would you like to see downtown?

   The new-look Main Street was designed with 11 spaces for art installations, and soon, at least two of them could be occupied by sculptures the city leases for a year.

In a report the city council will consider this evening, City Manager Tom Aspell recommends the councilors pick two sculptures and determine the best locations for them. 

Included in their packets are nine examples of artists’ work, ranging from a 10-foot-tall granite-and-glass pillar to a 2-foot-tall bronze boy holding a turtle. They were vetted by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce’s Creative Concord committee.

 

Since art is subjective – and everyone will have his or her own opinion – we at the Monitor wanted to give our readers a chance to pick their favorites. We’ve created a poll with images of the recommended sculptures. You can place your vote at the bottom of this story.

Think of it as practice for tomorrow’s primary and go have your say.

If you find yourself examining a thought-provoking piece and wondering, “What does it mean?” then one of the artists has a spot of advice.

“Sculptures are like stone walls and tigers and dogwood trees. It’s not that they have to mean. It’s that they have to be,” said Murray Dewart. “They just have to be.”

Dewart, who works in a horse barn behind his house in Brookline, Mass., has two granite gates up for consideration that are currently on display at temporary installations in Massachusetts. I won’t try too hard to describe them because Dewart said sculptures defy written description.

“You’re trying to put something into words that I have put into bronze and granite,” he said. 

Dewart said his work, which he’s been producing for 45 years now, has been on display at Concord’s Mill Brook Gallery and St. Paul’s School, as well as several foreign countries. 

He said he loves the idea adding the downtown of New Hampshire’s capital to that list. While he lives in Massachusetts, he said his family has long-standing connections to the Granite State, including that his great grandfather was the mayor of Manchester and his grandmother was the first woman to be licensed to drive in 1906.

Another one of the artists being considered, Antoinette Prien Schultze, is already well known in the area for a sculpture she made for Manchester’s millyard district.

The Mill Girl stands nearby Stark Street to represent the thousands of women who worked in nearby factories in the 19th century.

Schultze’s piece being considered for Concord, “Cultured Stone,” isn’t a lifelike statue such as the Mill Girl – the city already has a lot of those – but a 10-foot-tall granite and glass pillar that's currently located at the Mill Brook Gallery.

Schultze, who works full-time as a sculptor at her dairy farm in Eliot, Maine, etched opposing vertical and horizontal ribbons along the cylinder and placed a piece of blue glass at the crown that stands as “a symbol of truth, of the source of life and everything.”

“In nature, you always have these opposites that work against each other, but for some reason, when they come together, there’s a focus there,” she said.

She said she enjoys to have her work featured in public spaces because “every once in while somebody comes up and sees it and they really get what I do.”

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a rich person purchase my work, but it’s nice that it adorns the streets in the public,” she said. “It makes you feel good.”

A third artist, Wendy Klemperer, said she collects salvaged steel at construction sites and scrap yards and forms it into the contours of animals like a three-dimensional drawing.

“I’m just attracted to all these linear elements that are bent up and twisted and distressed from demolition,” said the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident who spends summers and falls at a family home in Nelson.

In three examples of her work that the city council will review, she depicts emotive images of deer. One is calmly grazing, another has perked up after spotting something that might be a threat, and a stag is lumbering along.

“Sculptures are kind of about conveying emotion through motion,” she said. “The most important thing to me is sort of creating energy and drawing movement in space.

“It’s also about kind of behavior, and I guess specifically animal behavior, and how they express their state of mind through their body,” she said.

Aspell said recommended the first two sites to host these sculptures should be on North Main Street next to Bagel Works at the end of Phenix Avenue and on South Main Street at the southeast corner of Pleasant Street Extension near Live Juice.

 

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)




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