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Worcester's Art in the Park

Household Gods: Laundry Bottle Totems by Susan Champeny
Household Gods: Laundry Bottle Totems by Susan Champeny
Ajita Perera

Art in th PArk


If you live in the Worcester area and are looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy, how about a walk in the park while you enjoy art in the park?The park in question is Elm Park which is home to the 4th Annual Art in the Park Exhibition of Sculptures.

Featured this year are 20 works by New England artists selected by a distinguished juror panel consisting of Curator Susan Stoops, Sculptor and Educator Andy Moerlein, and Professor and Sculptor Dean Snyder. The exhibit opened July 30 and continues till October 2.

Each exhibit is uniquely brilliant, strange, curious, wierd and outright wonderful.

Worcester-based artist Susan Champeny this year presents "Household Gods: Laundry Bottle Totems" - a series of totem poles made from recycled laundry bottles, plastic lids and CDs. This is the most colorful and fun piece on display and one that carries an important environmental message: everything is recyclable and can be turned into a thing of beauty. She sent out an email requesting people to donate empty plastic laundry detergent bottles for this project. Who knew they came in so many vivid colors!

Some of the exhibits use the natural environment of the park to transmit a message. Take Catherine Evans' (Maynard, MA) pieces titled "Thistle". These could be seen as symbolic bright red crowns of thorns strapped around tree trunks, a cry for the plight of the planet's trees; or they could represent sea anenome-like parasites clinging to the bark of the trees much like the still present threat of the Asian Long Horn beetle which took down so many of the city's trees. Whatever her motive, hats off to her for the most creative use of cable ties.

A superb piece of sculpture is professor of art Amy Podmore's (Williamstown, MA) bronze titled " Level Best". Beautifully situated by the pond's edge, this whimsical piece, half jug/half human can be viewed on so many levels. Is it a squatting woman? Is she urinating, defecating or giving birth (element of water involved in all these activities)? Or is it just a jug with legs? Is the jug about to wash the feet? Is there some sort of feminine symbolism here? Woman = life bearing; or water = life giving. If the artist cares to explain, we would love to know. At any rate this piece definitely belongs in a museum of modern art where all passers by can scratch their heads in wonder and curiosity.

Elm Park was purchased in 1854 using public funds. The park is recognized as one of the first purchases of land for a public park in the U.S. and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Art in the Park, 2011 is presented by the Art in the Park Worcester Committee with the support of the City of Worcester Park's Department, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Elm Park neighborhood businesses and many community volunteers.

This annual event never fails to deliver and is a must see on everyone's summer agenda.

See the catalog of exhibits here and in the accompanying slide show.