By Virginia Dean
WOODSTOCK—For the past three decades, Woodstock residents Charlet and Peter Davenport have hosted the multi-artist event, “Sculpture Fest,” on their farm on Prosper Road. Displays of individual works of art are sprinkled all over their hillside, and community members and visitors are encouraged to come see the works. The tour is free and self-guided, open from 1-4 p.m. Some artists this year are returning, some are new.
“It’s always great to see work by folks who have never shown at Sculpture Fest before,” said Peter Davenport. “There is conceptually and technically amazing work, for instance, by Benjamin Metzger and Amanda Ann Palmer in particular this year.”
The annual art event opened on Sunday, June 27 and closes Saturday, Aug. 28. Artists are selected for their originality and strong work, Charlet explained.
“The only criteria, once the plan is set for them to create new work, is that it be new, horse-friendly and winter-worthy,” she said. “This criteria reflects the fact that, when we began this adventure, the fields had horses living there, and we’re open year-long daily from dawn to dusk. We still use that criteria although there are no longer horses in the field but instead deer, fox, and bear that appear on this land, so it fits as a criteria as it began.”
Paul Machalaba is among those chosen to have the designation for two years because their work might sell. Featured artists usually create new work for the following year as well.
He is a cutting-edge artist specializing in large welded aluminum sculptures with a contemporary cast look. He is well known for bringing a youthful fresh style to the Northeast. In his artwork, he strives to find the perfect balance of motion and rigidity in a unique blend of sleek calligraphy inspired works with zero visible welds.
Machalaba grew up in Woodstock, attended the local high school, and now sculpts in various places around the United States. His aluminum sculptures range from small work suitable for gardens and patios to large work holding their own in open landscapes and often accompany large building sites.
Machalaba is talented at working with people on commissions after seeing the location of their space and cooperating in understanding the patron’s aesthetic, Charlet related. He currently resides in Killington.
Amber Geneva is new to the area. She has a home and studio in North Pomfret and teaches regionally. The material she uses to create her figurative sculptures make use of a new product developed in New Zealand and is winter-worthy (lasting now through two winters) and lightweight, so they are easy to move to various locations. The material is also earth-friendly.
Ben Metzger is a new featured artist and has created a very large unique sculpture. The work is also the thesis project for his Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College. His work also boasts being environmentally safe for the earth. His interpretation of monumental “figurative” sculpture seems like new public art form. Carrying the scale and weight of memorial public sculpture and set in a field setting is a new aspect of art on the land at Sculpture Fest.
Nira Grannot Fox is a second-term featured artist. Her work in aluminum is actually a new art form for her. She has worked mostly in painting and photography.
Her work reflects her response to the Covid era and the new, more open summer entitled “Emergin” and “Pheonix Rising,” also reflecting this era. Her work is already in local collections of art on the land.
Charlet Davenport has worked as an artist in Vermont since 1963. Her work in ceramic sculpture is influenced by many years of acting as the director of the Sculpture Fest. Her outdoor art installations were initially created on fiberglass mesh and installed in public places around New England. She was a panelist on the Transcendental Landscape Art Panel and Discussion at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts, in September 2012.
Peter Davenport is the one-man landscape force. Along with his duties as curator of the exhibition, he helps artists in installing their work, clearing sites, creating the signage, keeping everything clear for visitors, and caring for the grounds throughout the exhibition time.
Both Davenports agree that the land belongs to all, and they welcome the guests who come to the artists’ event each year.