Gun control is on everyone's mind these days, including President Barack Obama and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. It's on the mind of Carol Kreeger Davidson, too. "When the governor was going around the state trying to solidify gun control, I became interested," said 84-year-old Davidson. "I wanted to create a remembrance of what he did."
The Bloomfield sculptor collected a bunch of ancient weapons — a machete, a hatchet, a Bedouin gun, etc. — and came up with an artistic use for them. She combined them with aluminum to create a seven-piece sculpture, "Days of Danger." When Davidson was approached to contribute a piece of her work to the sculpture garden at the governor's residence, "Days of Danger" was a natural.
Davidson is one of 14 Connecticut sculptors whose work dot the outside of the governor's Georgian Revival mansion, which sits on a 4.7-acre lot. The sculpture garden is open for public tours beginning this week. All artists are living except David Hayes, who contributed two pieces to the garden before he died in April.
Joan Hurwit, the curator of the exhibit, loves "Days of Danger." "It's not a pretty topic, but it's apropos and timely," Hurwit said. "And it's so beautiful."
"Days of Danger," which is near the pergola in the rose garden area, is accompanied by another Davidson sculpture, "Telamone", Davidson's homage to Sicilian sculptures called "Telamones," or "Fallen Men." Its placement near "Days of Danger" is not random. "It fits. A fallen man next to weapons," Davidson said.
Hurwit chose the sculptors and the sculptures to be showcased in this exhibit "by whim," she said. She tapped into her wide knowledge of the Connecticut arts scene and contacted outdoor sculptors she knew, and Hurwit got names from artists, too.
Davidson and four other artists attended a preview of the garden last week. Marcia Spivak of Wilton showed off her "Big Red," a horse sculpture made from found objects — including old parts of bicycles and wheelbarrows — and sheet steel. "I dumpster dive for parts," Spivak said. She also borrows thrown-away pieces of steel used by her friend, sculptor David Boyajian. "I take his negative shapes and turn them into my positive shapes," she said.
Boyajian, of New Fairfield, called his spinning steel abstract sculpture, "Kinetic Milkweed," a "sit-and-spin for the birds." It whirls gently in the wind, changing the perspective with every movement. It is the collection's only kinetic work.
Dennis Folz of Danbury, like Spivak, made a sculpture from fallen pieces of another sculpture. "I was working on a project ... of gymnasts on poles spinning around," he said. "I took the wood scraps and painted them." The aquamarine-colored abstract work is called "Tiffany Coral." Folz has two pieces in the exhibit. The second, "Look Out," is an abstract seated form made of steel.
Justin Perlman of Sherman created "Keeping it Together II," a companion piece to "Keeping it Together I," which is on the town of Madison's sculpture mile. "II" is more representational than the abstract "I" and depicts a seated figure. Perlman carved it from a cherry tree taken from the White Silo Winery in Sherman, and he expects the sculpture to crack, as wooden outdoor work often does. "Cracks seem very appropriate for the piece," he said.
Other works in the exhibit include "Figure Holding Bowl with Animal" by Joy Brown of Kent, "Ram and Ewe" and a dragonfly birdbath by Roger DiTarando of Vernon, two stone figures by Norman Hoberman of Greenwich and a four-piece work called "Rulers" by Peter Kirkiles of Kent, which are all representational; and abstract works "Mathematika" and "Signifier II" by Arthur Carter of Litchfield, "Sleeping Muse" by Michael Steiner of Bridgewater, "Deuces Wild" by Jonathan Waters of of Branford and the polished-granite "Amorpheous" by Mark Mennin of Bethlehem.
All pieces were donated by the artists, to be on display for about a year. All are for sale. If one is sold, another sculpture will replace it.
The only money that exchanged hands in the creation of the garden was reimbursements to artists if the installation costs were prohibitively expensive, according to Carol O'Shea, executive director of the governor's residence. That money came from the mansion's conservancy fund. Before the sculptures were put in, the mansion's wrought-iron security fence was extended to surround the entire property.
THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION SCULPTURE GARDEN at 990 Prospect Ave. in Hartford is open to the public for tours. Reservations must be made in advance. Tours will be arranged in groups, so chances of getting a reservation soon are best if several people reserve together. Tours of the interior of the governor's mansion are available on Tuesday mornings year-round except July and August. Both the indoor and outdoor tours are free of charge. To make a reservation, call 860-524-7355.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun