Autumn adds a touch of drama to Lemon Fair Sculpture Park
SHOREHAM — Every July, when the Lemon Fair Sculpture Park in Shoreham opens for public use, the fine summer light seems to clarify every detail of the large-scale artwork gathered there.
Colors pop. Reflective surfaces sparkle. Dark shadows emphasize density and weight. The art seems to stand out from the landscape.
Three months later, however, the park tells a very different story.
“Autumn everything changes,” said Frank Ittleman, who owns, curates and maintains the park with his wife, Elaine. “The woods offer a more variegated background and the autumn light has more subtle tones to it. The colors come off differently.”
As the darker seasons approach, textured clouds lend drama and a sense of movement to the work. Eventually, winter snow will add a completely different dimension to the park.
“Nature is very important to showing these pieces off,” he said.
So is placement.
“Part of the art of the park is finding the best site for each piece,” Ittleman explained.
This is especially important for the works that are too heavy to move around.
One of Ittleman’s newest favorites, for instance — “Leap of Faith” by the American sculptor Peter Lundberg — is so large that it had to be built onsite. It stands 30 feet tall and weighs roughly 60,000 pounds.
Sometimes siting means grouping pieces together by material or schema or form, Ittleman said. Other times it means satisfying what the landscape seems to call for.
“We have one place in the middle of the property that’s covered with trees — I call it the Knoll,” he said. “We’ve cleared a small portion of it and installed smaller pieces in some of the nooks and crannies. It’s a contemplative spot. But it needs a signature piece, a larger work to anchor the space.”
The Ittlemans bought their first large-scale sculpture eight years ago: Charles Orme’s “Lime Tonic,” a curling green shape that seems almost to have lost contact with the ground.
After they commissioned a second large work and moved it from their Charlotte home to the Shoreham property off Route 74 just south of the Cornwall town line, Elaine came up with the idea of creating a sculpture park.
“She thought it would be a great retirement thing for me to have,” Ittleman said.
But neither has retired yet. Frank works as a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Vermont Medical Center, and Elaine works there as a labor-delivery nurse.
“I’m still really enjoying the sculpture park, though,” Ittleman said, laughing.
In 2016 the Ittlemans opened the park for public tours. At the time they had 20 sculptures.
They now have 46.
Among the five that were added this year is another of Frank’s newest favorites, “Joy” by Belgian artist Paty Sonville. Though the sculpture is made entirely out of marble, its curves suggest a kind of pliability, even vulnerability.
And more are coming.
The Ittlemans expect delivery of three new pieces before winter: one from Argentina, one from Ontario, Canada, and one they have commissioned from an artist whose design is being fabricated by Nop Metalworks in Middlebury.
“We expect to have 50 pieces by the time the park opens next year,” Ittleman said.
Most of the work included in the Lemon Fair Sculpture Park belongs to the Ittlemans’ personal collection, but some of it is for sale by the artist.
“There are some really great Vermont artists doing public work,” Ittleman said. “But they need a place to show their pieces.”
Norwich artist Phil Thorne has three sculptures for sale in the park.
The Ittlemans sited one of them, “Second Prelude” ($2,000), in the Knoll. From one angle its two metallic spheres feel gathered in by curved aluminum sheets that suggest something hooded, floral. From another angle the spheres seem caught pre-flight, as if they’re about to be thrust forward by a wave.
West Burke artist Martin McGowan also has work for sale in the park.
Close to the park’s entrance sits one of Elaine’s newest favorites, “Girl’s Head” ($12,000), which seems to push up from the earth like so much patient rusted wisdom.
ALL ARE WELCOME
The Lemon Fair Sculpture Park is located at 4547 Route 74 East in Shoreham, about eight miles southwest of Middlebury College.
It’s open on weekends between July and November for self-directed art walks.
“We want it to be both an educational experience and an aesthetic experience,” Ittleman said.
About 1.5 miles of gravel walkways and mown paths connect all of the works. Visitors are advised to take care on the uneven terrain.
Though he’s still working up in Burlington, Ittleman still makes time to come down and take care of the park.
“I enjoy being there, mowing, cleaning the sculptures. It’s a labor of love.”
For more information visit lemonfairsculpturepark.com.
Reach Christopher Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.