Monday, July 28, 2014
Stone Sculptures at Bar Harbor, Maine by Anita Wolfenden
We had arrived just before dinner at our hotel and were immediately overwhelmed by the cool air full of the fragrance of sea and kelp. It was a perfect day and a perfect evening, sitting outside with our dinner overlooking the bay as the light dimmed. We took a walk along the water, probably one of the most popular places to walk in all of Maine, and we were amazed to find a stone sculpture, about a foot high built among the rocks just above the tidal zone. Then we noticed that there were lots and lots of these stone towers, some just 5-6 inches high but most quite a bit higher, maybe 20 inches, consisting of many stones, balanced perfectly. We thought at first that this is what people did who walked here but it doesn’t take long to discover that these were the works of a master. It takes a lot of skill to balance even one stone on top of another, and the stones have to be just the right shape and placed just exactly in the right spot. Most of the towers have a curve or a lilt to them and some look very anthropomorphic. Many are made like an arch, like a Roman aqueduct, with a middle piece like a key holding the curve together. Some have a real asymmetry and you wonder how they were constructed, if the artist used supports or not.
At first I thought this was a wonderful example of the creative human instinct at work, and that these sculptures were the result of many hands and many minds. But I became soon convinced that it is the work of one person. The real mystery is that we never saw him/her at work and there were new ones every day so we never did understand when all this creative bursts of engineering took place.
One morning we observed a man walking around among the sculptures kicking them over as he went. He was on his cell phone. A terrible thing to do we thought and I asked him why he was destroying them. He was quite defensive and angry and shouted: This is not nature! I am a naturalist and I don’t like these, they are not nature! We said were naturalists too but we did like them. He said he was upset that someone had taken rocks from lower down by the water and carried them up (ca 20 feet) and what if all the rocks were carried around on the beach, what then? We said the sea would take all the rocks back eventually but he burst out that it would take months!! Fortunately we never saw the angry man again and there kept being new stone towers every morning.
They are a joy to behold and the stone is so beautiful just by itself as well, all shades of grey, smooth or mottled, with white lines in them or shiny glints. Most of it is granite but some of it was brought there by the glacier from far away places about 400 000 years ago. Some art is made to last, and does, and some is not. These stone sculptures come and go with the tide, transient and beautiful in their short lived perfection.
Here is a sample of my work that actually is kind of like one of these stone sculptures I am so fascinated with. This is a tower made of paper, and one of my sculptures for the category of Fiber Art. See more of Anita’s finely crafted work at her website.