Why You Should Tiptoe Through The WAA Sculpture Walk
Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh, “Wave Form V,” painted bronze, 2014 – 2017.
By CB Wismar
From July through October, Washington Depot, Conn. has become a sculpture park, an outdoor art gallery presenting 50 commanding works by 40 widely recognized artists. International celebrity artists Julian Schnabel, Wendell Castle and Frank Stella creations are scattered throughout the town, appearing near work by such resident luminaries as Tim Prentice, Elizabeth MacDonald and Joy Brown.
Curated by local arts legends Barbara Talbot and Mark Mennin, the widely divergent pieces are placed in the center of town (Dan Murray’s “Watch Me” greets customers at the bank), in open public spaces (Mennin’s undulating granite “Currents” shares a plaza with Wendell Castle’s bronze “Above-Within-Beyond”) and in parks, by the river and on nearby hillsides.
William “Bill” Talbot, “Airport,” ferro cement and strobe black lights, 1969; Frank Stella Star with square tubing.
Tim Prentice’s kinetic sculpture “Charlotte” catches the afternoon breeze suspending the dancing spider from an accommodating tree. Julian Schnabel’s heroic sized “Barbara Bush Skipping Down the Champs-Élysées” stands guard at the Washington Art Association (WAA) office, where information, maps and details about the opening reception (July 14 from 2–6 p.m.) are available. Close at hand are works by Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh, Caio Fonseca, Lauren Booth and William HM Talbot.
“The WAA Sculpture Walk 2018 is an exhibition with no obvious narrative except for the town itself, the hills around it and the river that runs through it,” said co-curators Talbot and Mennin.
The flowing narrative expands to include the materials used by the 40 artists whose work is on display. From the mesmerizing bronze “Kneeler” by Joy Brown to the ceramic “Wheel” by Elizabeth MacDonald to Ned Smyth’s towering “Female Torso”, a full-sized urethane prototype, and William”Bill” Talbot’s ferro cement and strobe black light “Airport,” the media employed by the artists is richly varied and adds to the sense of being someplace most unique.
Robert Taplin, “Punch is Homeless,” milled foam and reinforced gypsum, 2012.
As Mennin and Talbot commented, “the bond of the background is what holds these placements together.”
There are many pieces immediately accessible to roads and walkways. Other pieces are set on hillsides that require a bit of hiking and navigating. “Level,” an heroic-sized piece by Peter Kirkiles, requires a bit of a climb.
The display area farthest from the town center places pieces by William Hyde Talbot, Sam Funk, Tom Doyle and Jake Paron in New Titus Park, the verdant sanctuary that borders the Shepaug River. It’s certainly walkable once there, but driving and parking is probably the best way to go.
The art is world class, the setting bucolic and inviting. The presence of the art gives the town an additional charm that makes it a worthy destination.
The Washington (CT) Art Association Sculpture Walk will be in place until Nov. 1, 2018. Although that should not fuel our natural tendencies to procrastinate — “We’ll have to go… sometime…” — it should give the residents and visitors who frequent the quaint Connecticut village the opportunity to become comfortable with the 50 additions to the landscape. There is something elegant about having world-class installation art around when heading to the post office or the bank or the grocery store.
Washington Art Association Sculpture Walk 2018
Open daily from 9 a.m. until dusk.