Field Trip to Trailside. Photo credit MAC Staff

Field Trip to Trailside. Photo credit MAC Staff

LOCUS, a Sense of Place, the 2019 Sculpture
Walk at Trailside Park is closing at the end of October. Be sure to catch it
and be among hundreds of visitors from near and far who have walked and
experienced the first Sculpture Walk since the Valley Fire devastated the
park. 

Rising amidst young sprouting oaks, manzanita and other shrubs are 13 sculptures responding to the park’s current environment, disrupted ecosystems, and the events that took place there. Most of the pieces are tall, providing bits of ‘architecture’ for birds or raptors in an environment that lost thousands of trees. Others like Emily Scheibal’s Pollinator Pole, or Cobb Mountain Elementary’s Creatures of the Night seek to create habitat for bees or bats.  Preview the exhibit and view artists discussing their work at www.middletownartcenter.org/ecoarts.

“Lisa Kaplan and I discussed our Genius Loci,
or the spirit of a place, several years ago,” said Karen Turcotte Founder of
the EcoArts Scupture Walk, which is now part of Middletown Art Center (MAC).
“With ‘LOCUS’, we put a stake in the ground, that says, we are back, and this place is home”.

Students explore Karen Turcotte’s Tumbleseeds. Photo credit MAC Staff.

The first exhibit in 2003 featured four
artists. The annual walk soon grew to about 25 local, and regional artists,
until the exhibit and park burned in 2015. The Sculpture Walk was closed until
this summer when the 14th annual exhibit opened.

The MAC opened in 2015, just six months before
the Valley Fire. Half of the sixty affiliated artists and members at the time
lost their homes and studios in the fire. Since then, the MAC has been a center
for healing creativity and a variety of cultural activities.

The recovery at Trailside Park is a testament
to nature’s resilience… but the change is significant. MAC was awarded a grant
from the California Arts Council to support an Artists in Schools project
called Being Leonardo. This STEAM
(Science, Engineering, Arts, Technology and Science) based project, integrates
visual arts into core curriculum in select classes in each of Middletown
Unified School District’s schools. About 450 students grades 3-12 will
participate in a learning adventure that begins and ends in the park.

“The guiding question for the project is: what do we need to know to design artwork that assists the natural recovery of a disrupted ecosystem?” explained Lisa Kaplan, artist, educator and Director of the MAC. “We have already taken six fieldtrips to Trailside to expose students to the current state of the park and experience it as a living laboratory. Our goal is to provide them with a relevant, empowering learning and art making experience in which they take action by designing and creating sculptures that support ecosystem recovery.“

A composting tree. Photo credit MAC Staff.

Visit the Sculpture Walk at Trailside Park
before the exhibit closes next week at the end of the month. The park is open
dawn to dusk and the exhibit is free to the public.  For more information about the Sculpture Walk
and the MAC visit middletownartcenter.org.

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