MIDDLETOWN— LOCUS, a Sense of Place, the 2019 Sculpture Walk at Trailside Park is closing November 10. 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 12 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, some years ago,” said Karen Turcotte Founder of the EcoArts Sculpture Walk, which is now part of Middletown Art Center (MAC). “With this year’s exhibit, ‘LOCUS’, we put a stake in the ground, that says, we are back, and this place is home”.
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 60 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. It has provided a sense of normalcy and quality of life, both to those who attend MAC’s programs and those who are grateful to see it, and “know it’s there” at the corner of highways 175 and 29.
While the change at Trailside Park is very significant, sprouting trees and young shrubs are testament to nature’s resilience.
MAC was awarded an $18,000 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, particularly New Generation Science Standards, which include Engineering, in select classes in each of Middletown Unified School District’s schools. About 450 students grades 3 to12 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 Programs Director at MAC. “We have already taken six groups on field trips 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. Each group will collaborate and choose a viable piece to pursue with support from a local professional to be installed in the 2020 Sculpture Walk. I am very excited about the critical thinking, scientific process, creative problem solving, and healing opportunities this project provides our children and youth.”
MAC encourages community members, sculptors, engineers, architects, permaculture designers, naturalists, horticulturists, among others, to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved or contribute time, expertise, and resources, including funds, to support student’s visions and the Being Leonardo project. Work will be vetted by the County of Lake Public Services Department. Applications for the 2020 EcoArts Sculpture Walk will be released in January 2020.
Visit the Sculpture Walk at Trailside Park before the exhibit closes November 10. A few current installations which are contributing to park eco system recovery will remain onsite. Trailside 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/ecoarts