An accessible guide to the best outdoor sculpture gardens in the greater Manchester area
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIMMY IENNER, JR.
Throughout the hills and valleys surrounding Manchester, sensational sculpture gardens and outdoor sculpture exhibits offer locals and visitors the opportunity to enjoy memorable moments of artistic exploration. The beauty and mystique of the artworks on display at these gardens and exhibits is equaled only by the heartfelt passion of the founders, curators, and community volunteers who oversee and maintain them. By showcasing the spectacular artworks of talented creators in an eclectic variety of scenic settings, they bring new levels of vibrancy to the local cultural landscape.
Southern Vermont Arts Center
860 Southern Vermont Arts Center Drive Manchester, VT 05254
Located on a picturesque hillside west of Manchester Center, the Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) is one of Vermont’s most well-respected institutions. The original structure on the SVAC campus was built on a 400-acre estate. The property served as the home of Gertrude Divine Webster in the early 20th century, an affluent socialite and patron of the arts who enjoyed spending time there during the summer. Gertrude was an enthusiastic supporter of Southern Vermont’s artistic community, and she owned an extensive private collection of artisan Vermont-made glass.
In 1950, the Southern Vermont Artists acquired the property, which has since become SVAC’s permanent home. Today, the SVAC campus encompasses 120 acres of pristine forest and meadowland. It is home to the stunning Stroup Family Sculpture Park, which is the largest sculpture park in Vermont. The SVAC sculpture park features dozens of phenomenal artworks from artists such as Zac Ward, Vaughn Randall, Paul Higham, Pat Musick, and Abby Golodik, among others. Many of the sculptures at the Stroup Family Sculpture Park were installed at SVAC as a direct result of their ongoing collaborative partnership with Salem Art Works in nearby Salem, New York. The sculptures are purposely integrated with the surrounding scenery in gorgeous and inventive ways. Some sculptures are framed by tall trees and flower branches, and others stand in the middle of open fields. The Stroup Family Sculpture Park provides majestic views of the Green Mountains and Taconic Mountains, and SVAC’s grounds also have ample space for picnics and dog walking. SVAC’s on-site trails are perfect for pleasant outdoor strolls in the summer, and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Additional facilities on the SVAC campus include the Yester House, an impressive exhibition space with ten distinct galleries; the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum, which houses a finely-curated collection of contemporary artworks; and SVAC’s on-site performance venue, The Arkell Pavilion, which hosts fantastic concerts during the summer season, such as the Manchester Music Festival and Broadway in Vermont! SVAC’s grounds also feature colorful and enchanting gardens, and The Garden Club of Manchester does some wonderful work maintaining the beautiful Boswell Botany Trail behind the Yester House. While visiting SVAC, be sure to stop into the on-site curATE café for a delicious meal made by their skilled culinary team.
North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show
North Bennington, VT 05257
The North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show (NBOSS) is the longest-running outdoor sculpture exhibition in Southern Vermont. NBOSS offers local residents and visitors a unique opportunity to engage with the arts. The 25th annual NBOSS exhibition runs from June 18 – November 12. Sculptures by over 40 talented sculptors will be installed throughout the charming village of North Bennington. The sculptures will be available for viewing from sunrise to sunset seven days a week in locations such as the yards of individual homes, the train depot, the Vermont Arts Exchange, and the Hiland Hall Gardens. Bennington Museum will also host over two dozen sculptures in collaboration with NBOSS, which will be on view throughout their outdoor grounds.
NBOSS first came into existence when Joe McGovern, a local mason, asked a sculptor and Bennington College professor named Willard Boepple to install a sculpture on his lawn. Over the course of two years, Boepple installed two different sculptures on McGovern’s property. After one of Boepple’s students, Anthony Cafritz, saw Boepple’s sculptures, Cafritz became inspired to arrange the first North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show. Cafritz served as the curator of NBOSS for several years. In the years that followed, Cafritz founded Salem Art Works in nearby Salem, New York in 2005. Several other local sculptors played a critical part in the evolution of NBOSS, including Fred X Brownstein, Stephan Fowlkes, and Amy Anselmo. NBOSS has been curated by the talented sculptor Joe Chirchirillo for the past ten seasons, and Chirchirillo has worked ceaselessly to promote NBOSS and bring the works of prominent sculptors to North Bennington.
The opening reception for NBOSS will be held on the grounds of the Vermont Arts Exchange at 48 Main Street in North Bennington from 4-8PM on June 18. Matthew Perry, the Co-Founder of Vermont Arts Exchange, has played a prominent role in supporting NBOSS and its continual efforts to showcase the works of sculptors from Vermont and beyond in North Bennington. The opening reception has no admission fee and will feature live performances and music. Tasty food and refreshments will also be served. In the week leading up to the reception, an artist-in-residence will build a sculpture on-site, allowing visitors and local community members to witness the artistic process up close.
75 Main Street Bennington, Vt 05201
This summer, Bennington Museum is pleased to host NBOSS at the Museum for the third year. In addition to sculptures by over 40 artists scattered throughout the village of North Bennington, the museum is hosting an additional 24 artists on its beautiful 10-acre property in Old Bennington.
This year NBOSS at the Museum will feature work by a number of artists who have contributed to NBOSS since the exhibition’s early years. While some of the works will be displayed near the Museum building’s entrance and adjacent parking lot, many of the works are displayed in the beautiful natural settings of the Museum’s back meadow and along the Jennings Brook Trail, accessible via the George Aiken Wildflower Trails.
The Museum grounds are accessible free of charge, sunrise to dusk every day. Postcards with the map and artist info can be picked up at the Museum desk.
Save the Date! There will be an NBOSS 25th Anniversary Celebration at Bennington Museum on August 25 from 5-7PM. This event will include a screening of a short documentary film celebrating NBOSS’ past, present, and future, and a live performance by John Umphlett, Flipping One Over a Bush, first performed 22 years ago at the 3rd NBOSS in 2000.
Artists featured at NBOSS at the Museum include Amy Anselmo, Willard Boepple, Bill Botzow, BOUNDScollective, Joann Brody, Joe Chirchirillo, Charlet Davenport, Rita Dee, Renee Greenlee, Brian Johnston, Harlan Mack, Pat Musick, Matthew Perry, Anna Radocchia, Rhonda Ratray, Daniel Richmond, Erika Senft- Miller, Mariam Shah, Teru Simon, Patrick Todd, Gerald Tuckman, John Umphlett, Lee Williams, and Max Yawney.
Salem Art Works
19 Cary Lane Salem, NY 12865
Just over the state line in Salem, New York, the revolutionary 119-acre artistic campus at Salem Art Works (SAW) is replete with awe-inspiring sculptures. Those who come to visit SAW’s Cary Hill Sculpture Park will find sculptures by both local and internationally-renowned artists, such as Mark di Suvero, Peter Lundberg, Coral Lambert, and Nam Lee, among others. The SAW campus is open from 9AM-7PM, and the Cary Hill Sculpture Park is easily accessible by car. Miles of trails snake through a series of wooded areas and spacious clearings throughout the SAW property. Visitors can take in the surrounding panoramic vistas while basking in the vibrant artistic energy that reverberates throughout the campus.
SAW was founded by Anthony Cafritz in 2005. Cafritz is an accomplished sculptor and passionate advocate for the arts, and he has spent the past seventeen years working tirelessly to create an artistic haven where emerging and seasoned artists can find support and opportunity. The SAW campus features a glassblowing workshop, several sculpture workshops, multiple ceramic kilns, and over a dozen buildings that are used for a variety of fluid artistic purposes.
Over the past several years, Cafritz has worked closely with SAW’s team members, including SAW’s Executive Director, Pearl Cafritz, to develop a number of specialized arts residency programs. Their NY/VT artist residency program enables underserved artists from both sides of the state border to take full advantage of their facilities. In 2010, SAW partnered with the Lake Constance Cultural Department in Salem, Germany to create an international artist residency exchange program. Up until 2019, SAW and the Lake Constance Cultural Departments took turns hosting groups of interdisciplinary artists, alternating on an annual basis between Salem, New York, and Salem, Germany. Although the program was temporarily suspended in 2020, Anthony and Pearl Cafritz are thrilled for the exchange program to return to SAW this summer.
SAW also oversees an artistic program for local youth known as Salem Teen Arts, which helps young people develop their artistic skills while connecting with other similarly-minded people in a positive and encouraging setting. In addition, SAW hosts a wide range of cultural events, such as musical performances and art exhibitions, among others. Highlights from their upcoming season include their “Music on the Hill” events on June 11 and August 13 from 4-8PM, which feature live musical performances and food and craft beer from local vendors. SAW’s three-day “Festival of Fire,” will run from September 9 – September 11.
The Museum of the Creative Process
257 Wilburton Dr. Manchester, VT 05254
Located on the expansive and stunning grounds of the celebrated Wilburton Inn in Manchester, the Museum of the Creative Process features fascinating sculptures and five permanent art exhibits, which are spread out through the fields and forests of the Wilburton campus. The Museum of the Creative Process was established by Dr. Albert Levis, author of Conflict Analysis, The Formal Theory of Behavior.
In line with Dr. Levis’ research, the exhibits demonstrate The Formal Theory, which bridges art and science, and offers insight into the
human unconscious as a scientific mechanism through a psychological, historical, and theological lens. A standout piece from the Museum of the Creative Process’ collection is The Abrahamic Family by Judith Brown. Originally presented at Lincoln Center in New York City, The Abrahamic Family features three monumental patriarchs, who are juxtaposed with four smaller matriarchal sculptures, as well as big and small bird sculptures. The installation dramatizes the inequity between men and women, as represented by the three Abrahamic religions.
The Museum of the Creative Process is currently hosting five workshops, which allow visitors to better acquaint themselves with the sculptures, and represent a concise program of Emotional Education. On Saturday mornings from 10AM – 12PM, a workshop is held where visitors can come learn about how the creative process reflects the unconscious by viewing a sculptural trail focused on the history of love. On Saturday afternoons from 1PM – 3PM, a workshop entitled “Becoming Conscious of the Unconscious in Less than an Hour,” takes visitors through a comprehensive viewing of the murals and panels in the on-site Moral Science Sanctuary.
On Sunday Mornings from 10AM – 1PM, the “Identifying the Unconscious as the Interactive Paradigm” workshop will take visitors for a walk along the “Highway to Abstraction” trail. The workshop will include the analysis of Epics, Scriptures, and the on-site Holocaust Memorial. On select mid-week days, visitors can attend the “Healing the Person and Healing the World” workshop. While there, they can gain personal insight by viewing the Gorski Retrospective, and play a revealing game of “Moral Monopoly.”
In addition, an introductory workshop for the scientific analysis of the creative process will be held at the museum’s gallery and training center, which is located at 3814 Main Street in Manchester, and is open on Wednesday afternoons and weekends.
Seven Springs Garden & Sculpture Park
325 Silver Springs Lane Manchester, VT 05254
Tucked away off of a quiet country road just south of Manchester, the magnificent sculpture gardens at Seven Springs Garden & Sculpture Park showcase glorious artworks in a breathtaking setting. The Sculpture Park features several inviting gardens, such as a formal rose garden, a Japanese garden that is outfitted with pagoda statues, pebble paths, and stone bridges, and the “Woodland Garden,” where visitors can feast their eyes on an ever-changing array of gorgeous flowers from the comfort of a gazebo just off of the path. Standout pieces from the diverse collection of American and Canadian sculptures at Seven Springs include the “Belladonna,” “Continuum,” and “Venata II” bronze sculptures by Richard Erdman, and “Gallant Bess,” a driftwood horse sculpture by Rita Dee.
The property where Seven Springs Garden & Sculpture Park is located has a history that is every bit as compelling as the statues themselves. The land was first settled in the 18th century. The land was farmed by local families for several generations, and was then acquired by the Doubleday family in the 1920s. In 1931, the Doubleday Family sold the estate to Lowrie and Hortense Childs. Hortense Childs was a knowledgeable and dedicated gardener.
He passed on his love of gardening to his grandson, Pete, who continued to develop the gardens. In 1997, Stan and Sylvia Stroup purchased the property from Pete Childs and his wife, Jane. In the years that followed, the Stroups made several additions to the gardens, and began installing sculptures throughout the property. Four years after his wife, Sylvia, passed away (2017), Stan Stroup opened the gardens – to the delight of Manchester’s visitors and residents alike. Members of The Garden Club of Manchester helped to facilitate the transitional phase when the sculpture park was first opening, and they have also served as greeters for visiting guests while working in a volunteer capacity. Seven Springs Garden & Sculpture Park is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from June to September. There is no admission fee, but donations are strongly encouraged, and reservations are required in advance. Reservations can be made through their website, and guided tours are also available upon request.