Vermont Arts Council

Vermont Meadows Meant for Sculpture

First Person
by Catherine Crawley

Vermont summer meadows are good for lots of things—picnics, puppetry, birdwatching, tick finding, and in some cases, sculpture. You’ll find plenty of the latter at SculptureFest 2020. On a dozen acres in and around a barn, artist studio, and farmhouse at Peter and Charlet Davenport’s property in Woodstock, some 32 artists exhibit their work of more than 50 sculptures in wood, metals, ceramic, fiberglass, stone, and other outdoors-appropriate media.

The Davenports co-direct the annual show, which they have hosted on their land for nearly 30 years. A painter and sculptor herself, Charlet has mentored countless New England artists over the years. Her studio gallery near the house contains two kilns and several countertops full of her ceramics in progress, colorful vest plates of various textures, and human faces as masks. You might find Peter tending the grounds or helping to install an artist’s work.

If you missed the “UNbound!” show at the Garage Cultural Center in Montpelier last year, you’ll find some of the sculptures on display at SculptureFest 2020, including Sande French-Stockwell’s giant black spider, “Mother and Child,” that bears the head of a wise gray-haired woman. The sculpture is a tribute to the late artist Louise Bourgeois who was famous for her monumental spiders, both fragile and protective.

Stefania Urist’s “Our House”

Also included is Amber Geneva’s homage to animals: “Sitting Pretty,” a trio of subservient, emaciated cows, and “The Expectation of Her Gaze,” a standing lioness. According to Geneva’s website, her work is her response to ancient symbols of female leadership, possessing both power and humility.

Sculptures by several artists supported by the Arts Council are part of SculptureFest 2020, including Sabrina Fadial, Robert Hitzig, Chris Miller, Hector Santos, Andrea Trzaskos, and Stefania Urist.

Urist’s “Our House” is a brick and asphalt shingle sculpture of two human bodies, representing Stefania and her husband, leaning toward each other arms outstretched and hands touching to form the shape of a house. The piece asks the viewer to consider the question, “what is home?,” according to the artist who describes the piece on the Otocast app, a free download that can be used to find and describe some of the sculptures on the property.

Santos has several pieces, including a stone archway, entitled “Fitting In” which welcomes visitors at the south field entrance to the show.

A noteworthy piece is Herb Ferris’ colossal “When Earth Was Sky,” the title of which comes from Maria Howe’s poem, “Singularity.” A vast pine log resting on a steel base reaches skyward with a massive granite wheel seeming to balance atop.

Hector Santos’ “When Earth Was Sky”

Also eye-catching is Blaze Konefal’s “Wave,” with hundreds of miniature metal plates that undulate in the breeze like waves in the ocean. Other works in the show by Konefal are “Windwave Grove” featuring trees with bouncing metal branches and “Golf Ball Tree” which is exactly as it’s described.

Open daily from dawn to dusk through the fall, SculptureFest is located at 304 Prosper Road in Woodstock. Masks encouraged, and adherence to the welcome sign to “stay one cow apart.”