The Meredith Sculpture Walk Brings the Art Outdoors!
By Sarah Wright
We’ve already been lucky this spring to have some sunny weekends to get out and explore the Lakes Region. Locals and visitors alike are enjoying the beautiful weather, taking advantage of what looks like the beginnings of a wonderful summer season.
I decided to take my kids on a day trip to Meredith recently, to appreciate some art outside on the Sculpture Walk. Sponsored by the Greater Meredith Program, this is the start of the 6th annual walk, with the purpose being to develop awareness and enjoyment of public art in Meredith for residents and visitors. The outdoor exhibit is also made possible by committee volunteers, and the generosity of sponsors and land owners. Many people are involved in this innovative project.
We headed out early on a Sunday morning during Bike Week, ready for crowds. To tempt the kids into the car, I promised them we’d stop at Moulton Farm along the way for warm, delicious donuts from Cider Bellies. (I prefer the ones with the maple drizzle, but for the boys, it’s sugar all the way!) Cider Bellies Doughnuts is located on the farm at 18 Quarry Road in Meredith. The donut stand is open on Friday through Sunday, from 8 am to 2 pm. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. After relaxing a bit and admiring the colorful fields and flowers at the farm, we were on our way again.
When we arrived at Main Street in Meredith, the place was hopping! It was a lovely morning, so I wasn’t surprised, but even so, I easily found a parking spot. All of the sculptures are centrally located, arranged mostly in a loop, so it’s not difficult to see all of the display sites marked on the map. Maps are available in a few locations along the route, but I printed a map beforehand from the Meredith Sculpture Walk’s Facebook page online. This season, there are 32 sculptures positioned along Main Street, in the Mill Falls Marketplace, and in the lakeside Hesky, Scenic, and Clough Parks. Removing the sculptures from last year and then installing the new pieces is a process that takes time. We did find that a few of the sculptures were missing, but it’s a transitional exhibit. Of course, those pieces might also have been purchased, as that’s an option, too, if there’s a special sculpture that “speaks” to you.
I thought we should start in Clough Park and work our way back from there through Scenic Park and then over to Hesky Park. I was immediately struck by the variety of sculptures in all different mediums. There were metal sculptures like Black Sailboat, made from copper and steel, and a sculpture of metal geese flying across a sunny sky. One that I liked in particular was called Space Between Leaves, a circle of green metal leaves that framed the view of Meredith Bay in a lovely way. In contrast, there was the smoothness of Geisha, carved from Portuguese pink marble, which almost looked like it was made of polished bone, and the Picasso-esque, Marble Woman. It was a great opportunity to discuss art with my kids, and I described how an artist can look at a block of wood or marble, or a piece of metal, and see something inside of it that they can bring out by using their imagination. We also talked about the time and effort that it took to create each piece.
As we walked into Hesky Park, we had the added treat of hearing a pair of loons out on the water. It was a rare sight, so close to the town docks! We enjoyed the lighthearted nature of some of the sculptures there, like the large wooden dog with a space the shape of a bone carved out of its “stomach,” and the whimsical Three Graces, made from welded aluminum.
After crossing Main Street, we walked up Lake Street where we were greeted by a large metal piece called Red Alert, that made me think of a rooster. The kids disagreed! That was a fun part of the walk, too, interpreting each sculpture in our own way. Criss Cross reminded my boys of chopsticks (perhaps they were hungry?), and was on display next to the recently installed bronze “Archie” sculpture on a bench at the Community Park. We took a break with Archie before continuing down the road to the Mill Falls Marketplace, where there was such a variety of pieces! We saw everything from stone pumpkins to a metal guitar, and a flying owl. It really felt like an exciting scavenger hunt.
The Sculpture Walk is fun for everyone, and a great way to introduce kids to art, while giving them the freedom to run around. It’s also a great way to get some exercise on a nice day. Take your time and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water. Explore on your own at your own pace, or go on a docent-led tour and discover fun and interesting facts about the artists and sculptures. Tours meet in the Oglethorpe Lobby at Mill Falls Marketplace on Wednesdays at 10 am from July 18 to August 22, and at 10 am on Saturdays from July 21 to September 15, or by appointment.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without stopping into the Innisfree Bookshop at Mill Falls, one of our favorite bookstores. We each picked out something for our summer reading. Choose to make a day of it like we did, and enjoy the shops and restaurants at the Mill Falls Marketplace. The Marketplace is open at 10 am every day, closing at 5:30 pm on Sunday through Thursday, and open until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday. It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours in Meredith, and I’m already curious to see what next year’s Sculpture Walk will bring!