The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum just outside of Boston is where I learned to ride a bike as a kid. Its wide-open space made it the perfect spot for a small child to whiz along unhampered. I rediscovered this haven for the first time in many years during a family birthday picnic on Sunday. The atmosphere at the park has changed slightly – visitors move with caution, donning masks and skirting each other on pathways. There’s a two-hour time limit on each visit to reduce density in the park. But despite these reminders of our new COVID world, the sculptures, many of which have been there as long as I can remember, emanate a sense of solidity and peace.
Marianna Pineda’s 1991 sculpture, Eve Celebrant, captures motion within stillness. I have always loved sculptures that invite a 360˚ view and multiple ways of considering the same image. The figure of Eve offering a pomegranate with one outstretched hand while her other hand is raised in a halting gesture resonated with my feelings about our current moment. At a time when we must keep each other at arms’ length, it is ironically more important than ever to connect and be generous with each other.
Rain Gates, by Ron Rudnicki (2000) and Cardinal Points, by Alexander Liberman (1965), offer an intriguing contrast. Where Rain Gates integrates seamlessly into the natural materials of its rocky environment, Cardinal Points imitates the upward thrust of the trees around it through the use of man-made materials such as oil barrels.
Lincoln, a massive 2012 sculpture by DeWitt Godfrey, resembles a pile of rocks rolling freely down the hill – a silent and frozen avalanche. It contributes to the park’s uncanny landscape of entry and exit: after walking through the sculpture’s round openings, I was met with a series of glass doors. Rather than walking through the doors, one has to walk among them. Divorced from all practical purposes, the doors become art – mystical glass portals that seem to hover a few inches off the ground. This display by Saul Melman is mysteriously entitled Best of All Possible Worlds.
Being able to enjoy art within the relative safety of the outdoors is a blessing and a great opportunity for anyone who misses seeing art in person. I encourage everyone to spend a summer afternoon at a sculpture park in their area while the weather is still warm.