Granite Takes Flight: Gary Haven Smith (STE 10/11)

Pierre Jardin recently visited the Ogunquit Museum on the coast of southern Maine, and he was so stunned by a temporary sculpture exhibition that he nearly missed seeing the art indoors.  Gary Haven Smith is a New Hampshire native who works with local granite boulders, erratics transported and left by glaciers.  In the exhibition material, he attests that “the stones are full of fluidity and movement, and I work to release that.”

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This work, “Voluta” (2011), exemplifies the dynamic force of his sculptures.  The piece changes dramatically when viewed from different perspectives; the forms it carves in space, the forms that the piece encloses, continually morph as one moves around it, from moebius strip to dragon to yin yang to snake to rubber band….  The base itself is a beautiful piece, stolid and anchored, composing a powerful foundation that tapers to a peak, on which the curved sculpture seems to dance.

I associate granite with hardness of character and sublimity of scale; with a New Hampshire taciturnity peculiar to the White Mountains and their inhabitants, and a cosmic California sensibility found in Yosemite and west coast visionaries.  In the hands of Smith, granite transforms: it sheds its dour, heavy, solid, dense, igneous, plutonic character; it ripples and dances, arcs and swerves, folds and flies.  Strolling around this piece, Pierre Jardin felt uplifted like a mountain, his spirit light as a feather.

“Voluta” and five other equally unique works by Gary Haven Smith are on view at the museum through the end of October 2017.




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