Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Open Air Art - Horticulture Center

Back in November, we were on our way to Heinz NWR when traffic on the Schuykill Expressway ground to a halt. We exited at City Avenue, then made our way to the Horticulture Center in Fairmont Park.

The gardens were in the expected November state of blah, but that did not detract from the discovery of the open air art scattered around the gardens and ponds.

"The Wrestlers"

Parking the car, we were greeted with “The Wrestlers.” Based on a 3rd century B.C. Greek original, the 1st century Roman marble copy is in the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. This bronze cast was made in Paris in 1885 and donated to Fairmount Park Art Association by its first president, philanthropist Anthony Drexel .

"Joseph Hayden" (1906)

Much of Philly’s out door statuary is what I would call “conventional monumental” (19th and early 20th century) . It is often overlooked and dismissed, as for example, this bust of "Joseph Hayden" (1906). It shouldn’t be.

A lively personality, like Hayden’s lively baroque compositions, is evident. I am also intrigued with the texture of the work as the natural elements have (and continue) to evolve colors and patterns in the work.

"Joseph Hayden" (1906)

"Sundial" (1903)

Natural elements have not been quite so kind to the Art-Nouveau “Sundial” (1903) by Alexander Stirling Calder. The limestone base with its four nubile representations of the four seasons looks weather-worn.

"Sundial" - detail

"Night" (1872)

Philadelphians seem to have an appreciation of female beauty; there is no shortage of semi-nude statuary adorning the city. Not far from Calder’s “Sundial” is the first gift to the Fairmont Park Art Association: “Night” (1872) by Edward Stauch. Descending darkness is allegorically represented by a shrouded woman.

"Night" - detail

In a completely different mode, “Pavilion in the Trees” (1992? - Martin Puryear), made of durable woods, is a sixty-foot walkway across a natural basin to an observation platform covered by a latticed canopy. Like a tree house in the tree tops, even on an iffy November day it provided a place for contemplation.
"Pavilion in the Trees" (1992)

Whimsical is the word that comes first to mind for “Three Boys on a Log.” I have not been able to find anything else on this work. It brought a smile to my face.

"Three Boys on a Log"
"Three Boys on a Log" - detail

"Three boys on a Log"

Not whimsical, but delightful in many other ways “Gambol I and Gambol II” (1992 -Robert D. Lasus) is two horse crafted abstractly in stainless steel. They gambol across the grass and among the park trees evoking the freedoms and joys of life.

"Gambol I & Gambol II

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