By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Between now and Sunday, Sept. 23 there are at least 16 reasons to visit “Art on the Trails”, a juried art exhibition at the Elaine and Philip Beals Preserve off Route 30 in Southborough. That’s how many pieces of art are sited along a mile-and-a-half of trails in the woods.
For the third time, Southborough artist Catherine Weber has exerted a Herculean effort to lead this project. Southborough’s Jean Mineo, the former director of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, juried submissions that came from local, regional, and distant artists from as far away as Chicago and Sweden.
“We are thrilled that this year’s program attracted varied artists, in both discipline and expertise, from local elementary school students to professional sculptors,” said Weber.
Poems in response to the art and photographs by Southborough’s Chelsea Bradway will be compiled into a chapbook, which will be published by The Tishman Review, a literary journal. Special poetry judge Didi Jackson will choose one poem for a prize.
Poet and founder Maura Snell of Westborough will oversee this project. The book will be available at the closing event on Sunday, Sept. 23, when poets will read their work along the trail.
Weber explained that “Unexpected Gestures,” the theme for this year’s exhibition, “speaks to the surprise a visitor experiences along the trail when they come across an installation. Some stand out while others are more integral to the landscape.”
Some of the gestures are small.
“Arms Open, Balance Pose and Hands Over Head” by Linda Hoffman, who owns Farm at Old Frog Pond and Studio in Harvard, is a series of three bronze sculptures set on top a pile of stones.
“Are they dancing, bowing, or praising? Surrounded by air and earth, and oaks. Breath fills their arcs. Their centering endlessly expands,” said Hoffman on the exhibit’s website.
Some of the gestures are big.
It’s surprising to see “Big Kitty,” by Mark Wholey, set towards the back of a meadow. Black and white with red lips and hollow eyes, this cartoon-like two-dimensional piece seems like it has something to say.
There’s “Entelodont,” by Robert Shannahan, which Mineo has awarded best in show. Set in the woods, this fierce looking creature lived when the dinosaurs went extinct, according to Shannahan.
Some gestures are interactive.
“Mossy Meditation Labrytinth” by Samela St. Pierre brings visitors into a maze of moss and rocks.
One gesture is all heart.
Nicholas O’Hara’s “Fieldstone Heart” is a tribute to his daughter, who died from cystic fibrosis.
One gesture involved 263 students.
Southborough art teacher Denise Johnson and her fourth and fifth grade students at Margaret A. Neary Elementary School, created a display of sticks inspired by Tibetan prayer flags and American Indian medicine sticks.
“The color patterns of each have meanings. Denise drilled holes in each of the 263 sticks, threaded them with fishing line, and assembled this beautiful installation. It’s wonderful to see the students point out their work to their parents and friends,” said Weber.
In addition to the juried pieces, Art on the Trails features a Fairy and Gnome Village on land designated by the Southborough Open Land Foundation.
This year’s Art on the Trails has received funding from Southborough Community Fund, Mass Cultural Arts Council, and in-kind donations from Staples.
For more information, visit www.artonthetrails.com.
Photos/Jane Keller Gordon