Since its founding in 1964, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has activated its grounds with public sculpture and outdoor installations. The spring of 2019 marks a renewal of the formal Sculpture Garden exhibition program as well as a full activation of the Museum’s campus with sculpture sited from Ridgefield’s historic Main Street, to the two-acre Sculpture Garden behind the Museum building. Works by Radcliffe Bailey and Tom Friedman are currently on view and sculptures by Tony Tasset and Nari Ward will be installed mid-June.
All works installed on The Aldrich campus are free and open to the public through March 15, 2020. Radcliffe Bailey’s (b. 1968) Vessel III (2018) is situated adjacent to Ridgefield’s Main Street. Vessel III is a cylindrical, twelve-foot high steel chamber that is open to the sky featuring a meditative soundtrack created in collaboration with musician Okorie Johnson.
Upon entering and looking up, the viewer encounters a mysteriously suspended conch shell silhouetted against the piece’s dramatic circular aperture. Greeting visitors on the patio in front of the Museum’s entrance, Tom Friedman’s (b. 1965) Hazmat Love (2017) presents two wrestling figures whose bodies are clothed in a protective armor made out of crumpled baking pans cast in polished stainless steel. As with most of Friedman’s work, the meaning lies in ambiguity tinged with humor: are the figures fighting, dancing, or helping each other?
For his sculpture Deer (2015), Tony Tasset (b. 1960) has taken the common white-tailed deer and blown it into what can only be considered monstrous proportions. Hunted to near extinction in much of the United States, the white-tailed deer has made a spectacular comeback, much to the annoyance of both farmers and suburban gardeners. Deer will occupy a site in the lower section of the Sculpture Garden.
Based in recycling and the folk traditions of his native Jamaica, where he was born, as well as the street aesthetics of Harlem, where he currently lives and works, Nari Ward’s (b. 1963) sculpture often evokes African-Caribbean and African-American experience in surprising and innovative ways. For the monumental sculpture, APOLLO / POLL (2017) Ward has recreated Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater sign with a twist: alternately flashing between the word APOLLO and POLL, which is embedded within. The artist has interjected politics into the role of both the Greek god (and his namesake theater), who rules over light as well as music, poetry, and art.
The Museum’s sculpture program is organized by Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director, and Amy Smith-Stewart, Curator, at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Generous support for The Aldrich Sculpture Garden is provided by The Leir Foundation.
Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: Christopher E. Manning