Andres Art Institute

A sculpture park set on a hillside that had been a small ski resort in Brookline, NH.  It was founded by an engineer and a sculptor in 1996.  (http://andresinstitute.org), and they jump-started the park by inviting an international group of sculptors to live on the site and create works during a symposium.  They have repeated this several times, and there are now 72 works in place.

We were struck by how simple and low-key the whole operation is.  It is open and free to the public every day.  You download a map onto your phone, and then you can wander trails all over the hillside.  There are no Big Name artists involved whose works cost millions of dollars, simply good sculptors who seem to draw inspiration from the site and the group process.

Some of the work doesn’t seem very site-specific:  objects which could be seen in a gallery with no loss of meaning.  DSCF4749DSCF4744

Others benefit from the wooded location, such as when you get a first , unsettling glimpse of something through the trees, and then close in to find that it is still unsettling when seen up close.DSCF4767DSCF4770

Our favorite works were those which seemed to be designed for a specific location, such as this weird beast-like thing:DSCF4753

or this bench/outpost/marker/tankDSCF4721

or sometimes the site provokes an association, as this piece reminded me of rotting totem poles as they are seen in the forests of the coastal northwest.DSCF4725

The quality of the artwork was high, but the landscape design could use some help.  The trails don’t make much sense, and having an overall vision of sequence and procession would enhance the experience of the art.  The one place where this was done, on the Quarry trail, was by far the most satisfying.  Pieces picked up on spatial cues in the landscape, and moving along the trail led to an understanding that was larger than the sum of the parts.DSCF4697DSCF4698DSCF4704

At the top of the mountain the space opens up, and there is a view towards Mt.Monadnock and other small peaks in the distance. DSCF4738

As we were leaving in the growing dusk, we could barely see dark forms ahead by the side of the road.  Were they people, or sculptures, or just shadows that we were imagining to be forms?  It put us on edge, clearly the artist’s intention, a brilliant example of the power of a well-executed piece.DSCF4780

This institute doesn’t appear to be that well-known; we really enjoyed seeing a good local, place, one that doesn’t appear on anyone’s list of major monuments of western civilization, but which shows that there are good artists out there, working for the sake of the art, and not just the blandishments of the art market.

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