Sculpture sprouts on Shoreham hillside as couple creates art park
SHOREHAM — On the drive from Cornwall to Shoreham, passersby can spot four steel figures — slightly larger than human size — bending with arms raised, embracing the rolling hills and ambling horizon line with euphoric grace.
Frank Ittleman has been collecting sculptures for 20 years, but this piece — “The Dancers” by Texas artist Jerry Daniel —is his favorite.
“The joy that they have with their poses — every time I see it, I smile,” he said.
Ittleman gets plenty of opportunities to smile, and now he and his wife, Elaine, are giving more people a chance to experience this and many other large sculptures that they have erected on their expansive 700-acre property in Shoreham over the past 10 years.
The Lemon Fair Sculpture Park, located off Route 74 just south of Shoreham’s town line with Cornwall, will be open on weekends beginning July 1 for the public to wander along a mile-long path and enjoy, critique and sometimes marvel at the diverse collection.
The sculptures, with titles like “Bubbles-Kinetic” and “Lime Tonic,” vary in shape, size and style. A friendly chartreuse squiggle stands next to “The Dancers” to greet visitors as they pull off Route 74. Down in the field, Elaine’s favorite sculpture, “Light Ring” by Bruce White, frames the dense forest to the east of the property in chiseled silver metal.
“At different times of the day it shines,” she said. “You can see the sunset through the hole — it’s beautiful.” Elaine hopes the expanding collection will grow to 50 sculptures.
The sculptures are sourced from a mix of local and non-local artists. The Ittlemans bought their first piece from Christopher Curtis, the owner of a gallery in Stowe. His piece, titled “The Kiss and The Face,” is displayed at the Lemon Fair Sculpture Park. Elaine anticipates exhibiting more local art as the collection grows.
This Saturday at 4 p.m., friends and members of the Town Hall Theater will have a unique opportunity to privately tour the Lemon Fair Sculpture Park. As a fundraiser for the Middlebury theater, the Ittlemans will take anyone willing to pay the $25 ticket through a mile-long trail, which will take about an hour. Saturday’s event will be visitors’ chance to learn about the history of the pieces, the artists and the Ittlemans’ decisions about placing each sculpture. The Ittlemans will act as tour guides, stopping to explain each sculpture in detail.
The public is welcome to wander through the park for free on Saturdays and Sundays starting July 1 and continuing to November. Guests can enjoy the colors, geometry, spatial relations, movement and energy of the artwork. Start at the shed close to the parking area. The Ittlemans suggest that visitors bring water, keep dogs on a leash, and wear sturdy shoes as the terrain is uneven.
The emphasized that these are works of art and not climbing structures or playthings.
Frank Ittleman chooses most of the sculptures for the park. He researches each piece and its artist, sometimes even calling the artist on the phone before making the purchase. In this way, he has created a network of sculptors who sometimes introduce him to others in their areas.
“We like to meet them and to support them,” he said. “I like that personal interaction.”
LIKE A MINI STORM KING
Doug Anderson, executive director of the Town Hall Theater, has already ventured to the sculpture park and walked the grassy trail. As an emphatic fan of the Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park located an hour north of New York City, he is thrilled to have a “mini Storm King” right in Addison County.
“I just couldn’t quite believe it,” he said. “I mean, this is really something we want to introduce people to.”
Anderson believes the park is a great benefit to the community because it showcases well-known artists in a permanent setting where everyone has access to them. Town Hall Theater Outreach Coordinator Megan James initially found out about the park and informed Anderson.
“She was 10 seconds into telling me about it and I picked up the phone and called them,” he said. “This is part of our mission; our mission is the arts.”
The Ittlemans both work at the University of Vermont Medical Center — Frank as a cardiothoracic surgeon and Elaine as a labor-delivery nurse. Even with busy schedules, they say art is an important part of their lives, and they look forward to sharing the collection with the community.
“I think it can make people feel better,” Elaine said. “People can learn things, and I think it’s aesthetically pleasing. It speaks to people individually.”
The Ittlemans placed each sculpture meticulously around a 30-40-acre portion of the larger property. After visiting many sculpture parks, they realized that siting was a vital part of the navigation of the park and the experience of the visitor.
“We’re trying to put the pieces in places where they don’t get lost in the space, but they work with the space, they become part of it,” Frank said.
Anderson agrees, placement is crucial.
“One of the biggest issues is how to create a story and a narrative and one visual experience that leads to the next,” he said. “Most of us don’t have that problem, about where to put our gigantic outdoor art.”
For Saturday’s tour, Anderson expects around 50-75 attendees. Tickets for the tour are available to everyone online at www.townhalltheater.org. Participants will meet at 4 p.m. at the shed at the entrance to the site, where the mile-long tour will begin.
“I’m pleased that (the Town Hall Theater) is able to break this news to the community, and for the fact that the Ittlemans are willing to open up their land to the public,” Anderson said. “We toss the word ‘unique’ around a lot. This is unique for this area. It’s different from anything else available in this community. This is something you want to see.”
More information is at www.lemonfairsculpturepark.com.