This summer, the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden (236 Hopkinton Road, Concord, 226-2046) is more like a backyard art fantasy oasis and playground than a standard art gallery.
Throughout the grounds, indoors and out, artwork lines the walls and ceilings and fills the yard outside. This is the 15th year that Pam Tarbell has exhibited artists’ work in this way, since opening the site in 1996. She likes that the gallery has an unusual feel. Here, you can go up and touch the art — though you might not want to go up and touch Bob Shannahan’s “Entelodent” sculpture. With the “feet of a moose, legs of a pony, trunk of a cow, head of a boar and 44 crocodilian teeth,” it’s quite terrifying, and you can see why the now-extinct animal is referred to as the “Terminator Pig.”
Many of the sculptures are considered “contemporary art,” but even visitors with little knowledge of modern art will enjoy walking around this garden, seeing life-sized works out on the grounds.
The magic begins as soon as you enter the gallery’s driveway. As you drive in, you’ll see Shannahan’s life-sized wooly mammoth, constructed from outdoor materials, and “Suspense,” Andy Moerlein’s sapling, metal and handmade rock sculpture — it looks like a large dinosaur nest on intricate stilts, magnificent and larger than life, giving the sense that you’re either at an outdoor art gallery or in a sophisticated rendition of Jurassic Park.
Continue through the grounds on foot, and you’ll encounter Lin Lisberger’s “Tall Journey,” which seems to offer a pathway to a rabbit hole in the sky, with a small, wooden boat base and a protruding ladder, twisting up to the unknown. Josie Campbell Dellenbaugh’s “Take Off” is a bronze sculpture of a young child, ready to escape — into the bushes behind Casey Schwarz’s white marble “Egyptscape,” or perhaps under Teresa Taylor’s “Bird Bath.” Or perhaps he’ll try to take a ride on “Nellie,” the beautiful horse created out of steel by Kathryn Fields, or make friends with Thomas Berger’s granite “Sea Turtle.”
Many of the pieces on display outdoors hew to a recycling theme, such as Joseph DeRobertis’s “Alien Angel.” With rusty metal wings, a short, brown skirt of gadgets, and a look of complete fluster upon her (or his?) face, this creature is clearly not from around here.
To see some art constructed entirely from wood, ask to see “In the Grain,” a set of functional sculptures and turned objects made of wood, on the second floor. The exhibition, composed of wood cowboy hats, ladders, mirrors and sculptures, will be on display until Sunday, Aug. 19.
This outdoor sculpture garden is particularly interesting because it is in such a remote place. Some of the pieces, such as Lisberger’s “Tall Journey” next to the Sculpture Garden’s miniature pond and “Entelodont” out in the wild, seem to work outside perfectly, due to their materials and subject matter.
Others are wonderful outside because of their “kinetic” nature — they move with the wind. The lollypop-shaped pieces of Drew Klotz’s “Red Star” look like red stars when the breeze positions them across each other.
Children are especially welcome to participate in the cultural display “Where Art and Nature Meet.”
“When I started the Mill Brook Gallery, I was teaching — at this time, there weren’t many galleries in Concord, but I wanted to create a place where you could come, bring children, and see the depth of art outside,” Tarbell said.
For another way to enjoy the garden, the Bradford Bog People will play historic music from the Appalachian Mountains on Wednesday, Aug. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Mill Brook Gallery. Bring lawn chairs and a picnic.