Magazine article Sculpture

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Magazine article Sculpture

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Article excerpt

Boothbay, Maine Gary Haven Smith Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Boogie Woogie and Wiggle Room are hardly names one would expect to find for sculptures in stone, but Gary Haven Smith is hardly your ordinary stone sculptor. His approach is somewhere between a considered Zen aesthetic and playful invention. "Stone Waves," his recent exhibition, showcased the impressive range of his freestanding work.

Swept Away, perched on a pyramidal granite obelisk, looks like a twisted piece of paper. Its eccentric, complex curves resemble ram's horns or the head of a shamanistic figure. The whorls on each side are shell-like, in the sense of spiraling into the center, but they also resemble wings. The piece looks as if it might lift off.

Smith's approach to stone is distinctive and unique. His preferred medium is glacial boulders, when he can find them. Always honoring the shape of the stone, he uses a system of wire sawing in which the wire becomes the carver of the piece under the artist's watchful eye. Smith is ever-present, making small adjustments in rotation as the form begins to develop. The sculpture is always "happening," moment to moment. The compound curves would be difficult to conceive beforehand, and he talks about being "in the spirit of the form" as it emerges. Natural boulders are part of the landscaping at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. When seen in proximity to Smith's worked stones, one had to wonder what secret life they might be waiting to reveal.

Gathering seemed to float in the pool in which it was situated. …

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