This week’s adventure: Visit Cold Hollow Sculpture Park for an immersive art experience amidst the beauty of northern Vermont.
Home to more than 60 sculptures by artist David Stroymeyer, the park was a dairy farm prior to David’s purchase of the land in 1970.
Cold Hollow opened in 2014, but just recently became a non-profit, which ensures the art will stay in place for generations to come.
What to know: After being closed to the public for an entire year, the park is reopening this Saturday, June 12. Four new sculptures, which David created during the pandemic, will be unveiled.
Admission is free and artistic programming is scheduled all summer long. The park is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday to Sunday until October 11.
My experience: A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet David and his wife, Sarah, for an interview and a tour of the park. Sarah, in a fabulous straw hat and sunglasses, met me at the Welcome Barn when I arrived and then we drove up the hill to meet David at this studio.
We sat in plastic patio chairs outside in the shade, hoping the sky’s darkest clouds wouldn’t open up above us. A few yards away, a pile of scrap metal sat waiting to be given life by David’s imagination.
David first began working with steel in college, when the assemblage art movement was rising in popularity. He would go to the scrap yard and lug large pieces home in the back of his car, first drawn to steel because of its strength, durability and anonymity.
He admired the work of David Smith and Richard Serra, both American sculptors who produced large-scale, site-specific work.
“In the beginning, I used steel without manipulating it too much,” he said. “Later, I found that with enough force, it becomes flexible, like plastic.”
Many of David’s sculptures at Cold Hollow showcase that plasticity. One of my favorites, “The Shuffle of Things,” began, according to his artist note, as a horizontal array of shapes, but morphed and curved during the design process.
Inside the studio, a large hydraulic press, which David designed himself, applies immense force to shape the heavy steel plates. Overhead cranes lift the material — even the field stones that are seen balancing on sculptures like “Ensemble 4+2” and “Moments in Play.”
During the pandemic, David created four new sculptures, though he said it was difficult to find the labor and materials he needed. The price of steel increased dramatically during the last year, forcing him to utilize leftovers.
One of those pieces, “Body Politic,” was created by dropping a 3,000-pound boulder onto sheets of steel. “The rock drop” performance became part of the art itself, an endeavor new to David, whose work is almost always crafted in private.
Why We Make Things: On July 24, Cold Hollow will launch its programming series “Why We Make Things,” which will explore the human drive to create.
Coming out the other side of the pandemic, the park seeks to explore the creativity that boomed while in quarantine and introduce the public to new perspectives.
A series of events featuring an interdisciplinary selection of presenters will be free and open to the public, though registration on Eventbrite is suggested.
July 17-18, 2021: Making Art to Catalyze Change With Jane Marshing. Activist artist Marshing explores our past, present and future human impact on the environment. Marshing will lead a small workshop and also a large artist talk at Cold Hollow, both of which will engage how she uses hope and imagination to create a productive agency about our shared future.
August 21, 2021: World Premier Dance & Music Composition With Laurel Jenkins and Matthew Evan Taylor. Choreographer Jenkins and composer Evans, both professors at Middlebury College, will present “Beacon Fire” a performance set amongst Stromeyer’s sculptures. Post-performance, they will lead a conversation about community-building as the motivation for artistic pursuits.
September 18, 2021: A Reading With Baron Wormser. Maine’s poet laureate for six years will read and discuss his newest genre-bending novel, which explores creativity through poetry, prose, American music history and the unique voice of protagonist Abe Runyan, a character based on Bob Dylan.
Each presentation will last about an hour, followed by another hour during which audience members can speak with presenters and each other.
“Our purpose in having people stay, if they wish, is so that there can be conversational follow up to ideas and subjects introduced in the presentation,” Sarah said.
Visit the park: Seated with David and Sarah in the shade, I felt welcome and well cared for. They shared a container of shortbread between them and spoke together, in the way the best of partners do — reminding each other of things they’d forgotten and finishing each other’s sentences.
After nearly an hour of conversation, I left David and Sarah to walk the park’s grounds in solitude, which Sarah said is perhaps the best way to view the art. The park is a place for contemplation, she said, and that’s why benches for sitting and reflecting dot the landscape.
To me, the park was a house — the sculptures party guests, dancing and interacting with one another in fields that are like rooms.
Walking the park alone, I felt like a child again, in the midst of a game of “freeze dance.” After turning my back to a sculpture for just a moment, I would look at it again and see it changed, from a new angle and a new perspective.
I stood beneath sculptures and looked up at the sky. Through the arcs of others, I viewed the Cold Hollow mountains, each colored sheet bringing a new vibrancy to lush green hills.
Go to the park this weekend, located at 4280 Boston Post Rd in Enosburg Falls. You too, should have this experience — seeing Vermont through David’s brilliant work.
This Weekend with Bridget is a recurring column. Tell her where to visit: firstname.lastname@example.org.