Art versus nature

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Libby and I drove up to Grounds for Sculpture last Saturday for the opening of our friend Ava Blitz’s new piece “Moby Dick.” (shown above and below)

Blitz’s work was the first we spotted inside the Grounds. It dominates a grassy knoll outside the entrance to one of the galleries.

Made during an artist’s residency in Minnesota, the cast concrete and mortar work, was moved piece by piece from the Midwest and reassembled on site in New Jersey where it will have a good long rest, we hope, before having to pack up and go on the road again.

Beached and bleached, “Moby,” like all things white in nature, seems delicate in spite of its materials. I liked its slumpy resiliance, which is kind of how I feel most of the time, slumpy and resiliant.

Meanwhile, if you’ve never been to Seward Johnson’s now-closed foundry and still open landscape and outdoor art joint, you need to know that the art competes with nature and doesn’t always win.

How can anything compete with a band of roving, honking, tail-displaying peacocks? And then there’s the lush landscaping that makes you want to run home to Garden.com and order some tall grasses.

Here’s another thing, to rephrase the old saw about golf, some of the art makes a good walk spoiled.

I’m not talking about pieces like Blitz’s “Moby,” you understand, or about a nice Red Grooms painted bronze “Henry Moore in the Sheep Meadow” (shown above and below) that was as friendly as a Wallace and Gromit cartoon or even about Johnson’s kitsch 3-D recreation of “Dejeuner Sul Herbe” which, after all, de-institutionalizes the high and mighty which is not a bad thing. Click here for pictures of Johnson’s outdoor works on the Grounds.

I’m talking about the other works, many of which are like the uninspired “turds in the plaza” Tom Wolf talked about in “From Bauhaus to Our House.”

Well, here they all are, not in plazas, but on berms, in groves of trees, beside fish ponds. You kind of want to look away.

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