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Gallery Show Arrives with Spring

Sculptures Bloom in South Quad

Joseph Wheelwright’s “Vincent” in South Quad
Joseph Wheelwright’s “Vincent” looks to the heavens from the turf of the South Campus quad.

By Dave Perry

With spring, new and interesting things tend to emerge. At University Gallery, a new exhibit is in full bloom, a mix of wild, whimsy and woe that spills outdoors onto the South Campus quad. 

“Boston Sculptors Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary” ran through April 26 and was curated by UMass Lowell art professor Ellen Wetmore, who has been a Boston Sculptors member for eight years. The show is less a celebration of a specific style or medium than one that includes the work of eclectic artists bonded by region and a common desire for exhibit and gallery space. The outdoor portion of the exhibit continues through June 30.

Iit begins with a sonic surprise. The motion of visitors entering the gallery triggers a subtle, computer-generated sound piece of tones and beats, a sort of welcome song. 

The mix of art runs from the figurative to the abstract and the 31 Boston Sculptors members use everything from bronze to rawhide, urethane rubber to crocheted plastic bags. Even thousands of acorn caps, strung together with monofilament, rising snake-like on both ends from a pile on the floor.
Wetmore’s own “Checking for Doneness” is a bronze sculpture that mixes humor and darkness in capturing female body type and pregnancy. 

The outdoor portion is a revelation here, especially among students who pass it frequently. Outside the dining hall, Andy Moerlein’s canoe-like “An Impossible Journey” sculpture mixes wood, saplings and handmade stone to catch eyes.

“The people I hear talk about it really like it,” said Kristen Racamato, a freshman art major. “I wish it was like that all the time, and that art would fill up the campus. “Vincent,” Joseph Wheelwright’s 800-pound granite tribute to Van Gogh, stares up to space, a human head with its right ear shaved off.

Nearby, trees are fitted with Leslie Wilcox’s “Silver Strapless” and “The Sentinel,” swaths of lacquer-coated stainless steel mesh made to look like garments.

Hannah Verlin’s work, “The Flower of Lowell,” is the most audience-friendly of the show,  a small field of more than 5,000 paper flowers, planted in the grass along a pathway. Verlin made the flowers by hand, and then mounted them with glue onto a bamboo skewer.  Spread out in a circle with a square left in the middle so it would replicate a mill stone, the flowers carry the name, workplace and address of a Mill Girl she copied from the 1836 city directory. Visitors are invited to take a flower as they leave.

The Lowell Cultural Council donated the use of a crane to install the heaviest of the outdoor pieces.