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The artworks have landed: Outdoor sculptures and installations return to Art in the Orchard

  • “Three (dis)Graces,” by Elizabeth Stone and Eva Fierst, is among the 30 new works installed for Art in the Orchard 2019 at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton.  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • An unusual growth: “Life Cycle,” a steel sculpture by John Bander of Turners Falls, is among the 30 new works in this year’s Art in the Orchard. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A partial view of “The Reach Field Tree Project,” by Binda Colebrook. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “Abundance,” by Pamela Matsuda-Dunn. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Detail of “Desire 2,” by Stan Stroh.  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A detail of “The Reach Field Tree Project” by Binda Colebrook at Art in the Orchard 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Don’t mess with the canines in “Junkyard Dogs,” by Elizabeth Denny of Florence. It’ sone of 30 new works at Art in the Orchard 2019 in Easthampton.  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A detail of “Three (dis)Graces” by Elizabeth Stone and Eva Fierst at Art in the Orchard 2019.  lSTAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Eagle has landed: “D'Arbus the Radiolarian” by Mark Fenwick is one of 30 new works at Art in the Orchard 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A detail of “D'Arbus the Radiolarian” by Mark Fenwick, now at Art in the Orchard 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “D'Arbus the Radiolarian,” by Mark Fenwick, at Art in the Orchard 2019 at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton. At right is Seth Morrow, who was landscaping the orchard before the art opening. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A detail of “Chronos,” by Chris Woodman, one of the new works in the Easthampton exhibit.  STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Eva Fierst secures a piece of clothing while installing “Three (dis)Graces,” a commentary on our throwaway at Art in the Orchard. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A detail of “Chronos,” by Chris Woodman, at Art in the Orchard 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Easthampton artist Matt Evald Johnson, right, gets an assist from Park Hill Orchard owner Russell Braen, on tractor, with installing his multi-segmented piece “Wheel Wall” at Art in the Orchard. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Eva Fierst, left, and Elizabeth Stone, seated, install their collaboration, “Three (dis)Graces,” at Art in the Orchard 2019. They are, from left, Fashionista, Electronica and Plastica. Below left is a detail of the installation. Below right, Fierst secures a piece of clothing. STAFF PHOTOS/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A strange steel growth: “Life Cycle,” by John Bander of Turners Falls, is among the 30 new works at Art in the Orchard 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “Weld-on, Kings of Tomorrow,” by Kamil Peters, is among the 30 new works at Art in the Orchard 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Not all the apples at Park Hill Orchard are ready yet — but the art is.

Art in the Orchard (AIO), the biennial exhibit of outdoor sculpture and installations in Easthampton, has returned for its fifth season at Park Hill, which first hosted the event in 2011. With a record number of applications from artists this year, and 30 new exhibits, AIO has continued to expand and attract new visitors, says Jean-Pierre Pasche, one of the key founders and organizers of the exhibit.

“We had 99 applications [from artists] this spring, with more diversity than ever, both in media, subject matter or geographical location of the applicants,” noted Pasche, owner of Big Red Frame, the Easthampton framing shop and gallery space.

As in past years, AIO offers a wide range of freestanding (and hanging) art of varied sizes, shapes and materials. Among numerous entries, this year’s show includes a giant sphere constructed with over 14,000 smaller steel saucers; animal-like shapes fashioned from woven branches, sticks and other pieces of wood; and three human-like figures adorned with “clothing” made from plastic, discarded electronic gear and cheap fabric that collectively offer a commentary on our throwaway society.

The exhibit, which officially opened Aug. 10 and will run through late November, will also host a number of special events during that time, including this Saturday, when many of the participating artists will be on hand from noon to 4 p.m. to meet visitors and answer questions about their work.

Pasche and Park Hill Orchard owners Russell Braen and Alane Hartley have been the principal organizers of Art in the Orchard over the years, seeking grants and other sponsorship for the event; with a jury of artists and other people involved in the arts, Pasche also reviews proposed projects for each exhibit. The work is arranged along a trail, about a half-mile long, that winds through the orchard; viewers also get excellent views of Mount Tom and can pick fruit or buy apples, pears, peaches and various berries at the farm.

Art in the Orchard, which had less than 20 pieces of art its first year, has seen applications grow ever since, Pasche says, while visitation is expected to top 30,000 people this year. The event provides $500 to each selected artist for his or her contribution, which means 30 pieces of art at a time is about the maximum the exhibit can afford to host, he notes.

Getting things ready

On a sunny morning last week, John Bander, of Turners Falls, was working with two friends to help get his steel sculpture, “Life Cycle,” situated on a large tree stump on Park Hill’s sweeping grounds. About five feet long, his creation could be said to resemble a small tree, with a solid center body, tendrils at one end that could pass for roots, and a nest of thicker arms at the other end that might be branches.

But interpretation is open to the viewer. “Life Cycle” is more of a commentary on used items — it’s crafted from welded metal scraps like old bicycle chains and chainwheels, camshafts, drill bits and conduits — and an imaginative and humorous take on repurposing industrial detritus. There’s also something of steampunk look to it, or perhaps a bit of science fiction weirdness.

“I made this last summer,” Bander said. “Just trying to find new life for old things.” It’s his first appearance at AIO and, he added, “It’s great to be here.”

Not far from Bander and his friends, Pasqualina Azzarello, Easthampton’s arts coordinator, was measuring a section of ground for a display she planned to put up over the next few days, which would include some wooden posts and clotheslines stretched between them; she planned to hang cloths and paint abstract designs, or “meditations on gestation,” on them.

That’s only one part, though, of what Azzarello calls “Local Lullaby”: Her project includes a soundscape in which a lullaby, composed by Marco Rosano, will be amplified through the orchard to match each birth of a baby at Baystate Medical Center. The lullaby will play at a rate that matches the average numbers of births that typically take place at Baystate during the roughly 15-week period of AIO, Azzarello said.

“That’s the nature of public art and collaboration,” she added, noting that she devised the system after talking with local hospital officials. “There are different wrinkles to it, and you work with different people and groups to make it happen.”

A more somber creation — especially in light of the mass shootings that took place in early August in Texas and Ohio — is Michael Poole’s “Gun Violence Project,” a huge orb he’s constructed from 14,718 washers, each of which represents a victim of gun violence (not including suicides) in the United States in 2018.

In an interview in the Valley Advocate earlier this summer, Poole, of Easthampton, said he hit on the idea of using washers to symbolize the deaths of shooting victims because washers are a common item and easy to weld — and because their ubiquity sadly mirrors the sickening rate at which people are killed by firearms in this country.

“The tragedies with the [mass] shootings are horrific and huge, but what I realized is the average is about 35 to 40 people [shot] a day — we don’t know their names, and we’re not seeing that stuff on the news,” he said. “I suddenly had this realization that as tragic as those mass shootings are … this is happening every day, all the time.”

Meantime last week, just beside a small group of trees in the orchard, Elizabeth Stone and Eva Fierst were positioning their contribution to the exhibit: three roughly made mannequins that were modeling a strange bunch of outfits. Their piece, called “Three (dis) Graces,” is designed to call attention to the problem of waste and disposable items, though it’s presented with a dark sense of humor.

The three “ladies,” as Stone jokingly referred to the figures — each of which is sculpted from very young trees Fierst pruned from her yard — are named “Plastica,” Electronica,” and “Fashionista.” Plastica sports an “outfit” entirely made of reused plastic, Electrica is adorned with old CDs, computer wires, mouses and the like, and Fashionista wears trendy but disposable clothing — the kind that’s considered passé after a few weeks, Fierst said with a laugh.

Stone, a Florence painter and sculptor who also works with fabric, says she and Fierst (the former education coordinator with the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst) were partly inspired by the exhibit “Plastic Entanglements” at the Smith College Museum of Art earlier this year. But they also wanted to examine the larger issue of how much stuff in our daily lives ends up in the waste stream.

“That’s what so great about [Art in the Orchard],” Stone noted. “You have this beautiful setting for art, and you can use it to explore all kinds of ideas.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

For more information on Art in the Orchard and Park Hill Orchard, including a list of exhibit events, visit parkhillorchard.com/art. In addition to the exhibit’s grand opening on Saturday, there will be a “Peach Party” sponsored by Northampton’s Academy of Music on Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.