Playful and haunting

Artists' creations decorate Mill Brook's indoor galleries and span the landscape

By LISA BROWN
Special to the Union Leader
May 02. 2018 12:56PM

Sculptor Michael Alfano's “Stroke of Genius” is part of the spring/summer exhibit now open at the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Concord. 
If you go...
WHAT: Spring/Summer Exhibition

WHERE: Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden, 236 Hopkinton Road, Concord

WHEN: Thursday through Sept. 2

COST: Free

INFO: millbrookgallery.com or 226-2046

Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden is unveiling an exhibit on Saturday that promises to be thoughtful, haunting and playful.

Mill Brook’s uniqueness is that it is a gallery both indoors and outdoors, all within the city limits of Concord. There are three show rooms inside and a sprawling outdoor sculpture gallery featuring the work of more than 70 artists from around New England.

The gallery and sculpture garden were founded in 1996 by artist and art teacher Pam Tarbell.

“There are incredible artists in your own backyard, and people don’t realize this. Ironically, the hardest people to get out here are the people from Concord,” says Tarbell. “Years ago, when teaching art classes after school, I realized there was very little art here for my students to see in the state capital.”

Tarbell has created the perfect venue for one to discover art in a peaceful and nurturing environment. Mill Brook sits on a rural country horse farm with perennial gardens, fields and ponds. A long linger through the property is almost a guarantee.

“This is where art and nature meet,” says Tarbell.

Exhibiting artists

New Hampshire artist Gretchen Hill Woodman, one of the featured artists in the spring/summer showcase at Mill Brook, explores human and animal relationships through her paintings. Her pieces are statements, some profound, others haunting and yet full of beauty.

Woodman’s work involves explorations in many media: charcoal; colored pencil and pastel on paper or panel; acrylic paint on acetate; photography; and small mixed-media objects and installations.

Woodman’s focus is on humans’ interaction with animals.

“I try to create an emotional connection with the animals,” says Woodman. “Some of my images are faces of animals, and they engage the viewer to look back at them, in the eye, in a sort of equality. I want the viewer to see the animal as an equal.”

In many of Woodman’s paintings there are subtle statements about the environment. “Greenling,” a graphite powder-on-paper piece, is one of them.

“‘Greenling’ is a polar bear in a fish bowl. It is a reference to space and habitat,” Woodman says. “The bear is running out of room to live and is stuck with nowhere to go.”

Another local artist in the show is Boston sculptor Michael Alfano.

Alfano has been sculpting figures, monuments and other pieces for more than 20 years. Much of his work is life-sized and can be found in the Boston area as well as around the world. Recently, one Alfano sculpture was seen by thousands of people lining up to start the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass. On the green was Alfono’s “George V. Brown — The Starter,” a bronze figure of Hopkinton resident George Brown, who officially started the race for more than three decades.

But for the Mill Brook showcase, he’ll be showing smaller pieces. Seek out “Stroke of Genius,” and take a long look.

“It’s about creating your piece of artwork in one stroke, and divine intervention when it comes out perfectly,” says Alfano.

The sculpture is a paint bucket of electric green paint on one end and an extended paint brush suspended by the paint to create a face.

While most of Alfano’s work is straight forward, there are some pieces that incorporate the blank space around the piece to tie it together. A piece called “Fuse” does just that.

An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10. Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden is open Thursdays trough Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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