Art Attack

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Just about four years ago, in our first months together, David and I planned an art trip, an “art attack,” my friend Andi called it.  We were going to see a couple of exhibitions at the MFA in Boston, then drive to the Hudson River Valley to visit Storm King Art Center, and then come home through western Massachusetts, visiting the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and MASS MoCA in North Adams.  We got to all the museums, but it was a very rainy weekend and we decided to wait for better weather to visit Storm King.

We finally got there this week.  Planning our drive back to NH from Knoxville, we decided to treat ourselves and take our time to get home, staying in some lovely spots on the way.  The first night we stayed at the Hotel Strasburg, in the Shenandoah Valley, a wonderful historic inn full of antiques, paintings, and Victorian decor.  It was a welcome alternative to the big box hotels along interstates.

In planning our route home, David had realized we could visit Storm King, spending a night in another beautiful valley.  Storm King was as astonishing and inspiring as we’d expected.  Covering over 500 acres, the Art Center is full of outdoor sculptures situated on the beautiful grounds in ways that change perspective whether you’re looking at a piece from an open field, a picnic bench, walking one of the long allees (an allee is a planting of trees to form a long walkway; at Storm King there are 200 hundred pin oaks in one, 40 maples in another) or standing on the hill that holds the museum building.  Over an afternoon and morning of glorious weather, David and I took in the grand Mark di Suvero sculptures that dominate the fields, the stunning David Smith collection on the lawn by the museum building, the snaking walls built by Andy Goldsworthy, the constantly waving rods by Robert Murray, the contrasting color and form of mown lawn against tall native grasses, the sloping lines of distant mountains against the hills of the park, the beauty and grandeur of it all adding to the high we were already carrying home from the wedding.

The night after we left Storm King, at dinner, we started talking about our ideas for creating sculptures in the land around our house.  David has been thinking about outdoor art pieces for months; Storm King got me thinking about incorporating sculptural elements in my garden.  Wherever our trip home leads us in our art, it led us to a happy journey home.  And here we are.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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