Adkins Arboretum Hosts Outdoor Sculpture Invitational - Artists in Dialogue with the Landscape


Take a walk along the paths at Adkins Arboretum this summer and you'll see giant dragonflies, a rusting cast-iron boat aground in the forest creek, and a huge spider web that spells the words "Some Pig."

For the past month, eleven artists have been working in the Arboretum meadows, woods and wetland. Their site-specific sculptures are on view through Sept. 15. There will be a reception and guided sculpture walk on Sat., June 19 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Every other year, artists come to Adkins to create sculptures inspired by the Arboretum's landscape. Curated by Centreville artists Howard and Mary McCoy, this is the fifth biennial Outdoor Sculpture Invitational - Artists in Dialogue with the Landscape. As the title suggests, these sculptures are having conversations with their surroundings.

A wooden arc set in the creek bed by Silver Spring sculptor Tazuko Ichikawa catches the cool water flowing in the forest creek, channeling it through a spill of stones at its center. A branch balanced upside down on a pole by James Hatley of Salisbury makes an eccentric weathervane that trembles and spins in the wind blowing across the native grasses in Nancy's Meadow.

It's the dance of the wind through "Kites & Darts" that brings this gathering of curious, fluttering forms to life. Washington artist Elizabeth Whiteley made them by pinching fiberglass netting into animated shapes and suspending them under three shady trees that border the South Meadow. For those in the know, there is some ingenious mathematics behind the shapes, but the resulting airy sculptures seem to morph into delicate flying insects or ghostly birds just glimpsed out of the corner of an eye.

Elizabeth McCue of Yardley, Penn., was captivated by the profusion of dragonflies that skim the air over the wetland beside the Arboretum Visitor's Center. She made nine giant dragonflies from bronze screening and waded into the water to float the sculptures on hand-blown spheres of glass. There, they join the real dragonflies, turtles, frogs and herons that live in the lush wetlands.

Some of the eleven artists in this show tell stories through their work. Baltimore artist Breon Gilleran's hand-forged steel spider web, titled "I'll Never Forget You, EB White," recalls the beloved children's book Charlotte's Web, while Chestertown artist Marilee Schumann's rusting boat tells of the local custom in which a waterman would run his old workboat aground in a marsh to decay when it was too old and damaged to repair. Titled "Lost in the Slipstream," it brings to mind how traditional ways of life around the Chesapeake are changing.

In keeping with the Arboretum's efforts to conserve and restore the region's native landscapes, Melissa Burley of Laurel, Md., takes on the issue of waste disposal with "Sinking Stones." Buried upside down in the soft forest ground beside the creek are two patches of dozens of colorful recycled bottles. The dappled sunlight gleams through the green, blue and red of the glass, making them seem like tiny futuristic cities or colonies of some strange, gemlike fungi. Here is proof that recycling can be fun.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum's ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists, sponsored in part by Caroline County Council of Arts. It is on view through Sept. 15 on the Arboretum grounds located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or for hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit"> or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.