Stone sculptors: Making art in Boothbay

Posted:  Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 2:00pm
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From the ting of hammer and chisel to the screech of the carbide blade saw and the percussive beat of the quarry hammer, there is no mistaking that it’s not business as usual at the Boothbay Railway Village this week. The 13 Maine stone sculptors plus a guest from Japan and a local student intern are hard at work from early in the morning until the sun sets each night at the Museum transforming blocks of granite and other Maine rock into original works of art.

The smallest work is being done by Japanese sculptor Kamu Nagasawa, who recently shattered his knee cap and yet traveled all the way to Maine to participate in the Symposium. Kamu is working mostly while seated and with small power tools. His detailed rendering of a human ear shown here in both clay maquete and on stone is a wonder to visitors of all ages.

One of the largest works is by Dan Ucci of Pittson. His selection of a very large piece of Jonesboro Red from J.C. Stone is one of the most discussed projects among the sculptors. At any given time Andreas von Huene, Dave Curry, Lance Carlezon and others can be seen huddling around discussing ideas with Ucci. In the photo, you see von Huene assisting Ucci with preparing the base for an upright stone.

Some projects are easier to see the daily progression in. Lise Becu of Tenants Harbor is working on a diptych of the sun and the moon and David Sywalski of Trenton is interpreting the pattern of a ripple in water into his selected stone.

Intern Sam Betts has impressed every one of the 13 artists working at the Symposium. He’s eager to pitch in with anyone needing an extra hand to roll a stone or clean up their work space but he’s also taking on working his own piece of stone specially selected with the help of Andreas von Huene on a trip to J.C. Stone’s yard in Jefferson. He’s making great progress under the guidance of the entire group.

All of the artists stop and break for about an hour and eat a communal meal at picnic tables set up in the shade in front of the Spruce Point Chapel. Lunchtime at the Symposium has been a great time to listen to stories and share ideas. For the artists, the balance between focusing on a piece for ten days straight, interacting with enthusiastic guests, and the comradery of their fellow sculptors is the magical mixture that make Symposia worth the effort and expense. Their time here in Boothbay is all volunteered and they were each responsible for travel costs, tools, and dinners. Artists only profit when someone purchases a piece of art being created at the Symposium or from the pop-up gallery with smaller works priced between $225 - $22,000.

The public can visit each day from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and watch the spectacle of dust, water and feats of human strength and mechanical innovation through Sunday, Aug. 20. You can also follow the Boothbay Railway Village Facebook page and Instagram account to see daily updates from your favorite artists. 

 On Monday, Aug. 21 the artists will be wrapping up their work and cleaning up the site to prepare for a celebration in their honor. The party menu includes a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Stone Cove Catering highlighting Maine products including local lobster and crab, Bristol Creamery cheese, Ducktrap Farms smoked salmon, and Pineland Farms steak.

Your ticket also includes cocktails made with Split Rock Distillery spirits, Boothbay Craft Brewery beers, and an oyster bar featuring Glidden Point Oysters. Live music will be provided by Barney Balch and his band. The winners of the Don Justin Meserve sculpture raffle will also be drawn during the celebration. Tickets to the party are $75 each and can be reserved online at railwayvillage.org/stonesymposium, in person at the Museum, or by phone 207-633-4727. Tickets must be purchased in advance, deadline is Saturday, August 19.

The Maine Coast Stone Symposium is funded in part by an Arts & Humanities Grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible through the additional support of J.C. Stone, Knickerbocker Group, Maine Media Collective, Marshall Tent & Event Rental, Trow & Holden Company, Swenson Granite Works, Kennebec Equipment Rental, Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium, LARK Studio, Split Rock Distillery, Glidden Point Oysters, Stone Cove Catering, and Boothbay Craft Brewery.

The exhibit, “Built with Stone,” is open daily through Aug. 31. The exhibit, the sculpture symposium with artists working and any scheduled demonstrations are free with regular Museum admission of $12 adults, $10 seniors, $6 children 3 – 18, children under 3 and Museum Members are free.

The Boothbay Railway Village is located on Route 27 in Boothbay, just 7 miles south of Route 1. For details about any of the programs that make up the Maine Coast Stone Symposium visit www.railwayvillage.org or call 207-633-4727.