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The Dallas Morning News – Art Springs Eternal

Plano’s Connemara comes to life with sculptures, concerts

Plano – Serving Collin County and the communities of Allen, Frisco, McKinney and Wylie

Friday, March 15, 1996

By Lori Fairchild
Special Contributor to the Dallas Morning News

Loyal fans and curious newcomers will share open space, fresh air and artistic interpretations Sunday at Connemara the 72-acre nature conservancy in northern PIano. Grounds open at 1 p.m. for the unveiling of the annual spring sculpture exhibition

This year’s show features the outdoor. site-specific works of nine artists from across the country. The sculptures will be on exhibit through May, providing a whimsical backdrop for three outdoor concerts. All Connemara events are free. Children, pets and picnics are enthuastically welcomed. Grounds are open every day of the year during daylight hours.

This year’s concert series begins at 2 pm April 7 with an Easter performance by the Plano Chamber Orchestra Brasswerks. The Texas Winds quintet performs at 6p.m. April 20, followed by the Texas Saxophone Quartet’s Mother’s Day concert at 2p.m. May 12.

As with beauty, interpretation of the artists’ pieces is in the eye — and imagination — of the beholder. Following is a brief guide for those who prefer to stert with a few insightful hints from the artists’ perspectives:

Pink Oasis Country Club by Kate Dodd, Maplewood, N.J.:

A wooded ravine beckone to visitors with hot pink surveyor零 tape and silver Mylar strips, materials typically used to “claim” land by calling attntion to property lines and commercal entities.
“I am using…[these materials] to demarcate an area in a way that is integrated with, rather than imposed on, the landscape,” the aritst wrote in her sculpture statement. “This gully tends to be a gathering spot that doesn’t rely On fences and locked doors to provide privacy, but instead encourages a shared, yet intimate experience of place.”

PVC pipe, painted a matching pink and woven through the ravine, offers a surprise upon arrival at the site. “The festive atmosphere generated by these temporarily pIaced materials, the quiet labor they speak of, and the playful communication made possible by singing and speaking through the pipes are a celebration of the gentler side of human activity, as is Connemara itself,” Ms. Dodd added.

Spring Migration by Willie Ray Parish, El Paso:

Connemara artists typically choose to offer a commentary on the native landscape and the encroaching development surrounding the nature conservancy. Mr. Parish’s work goes global with the environmental statement, luring intrigued viewers with the magical sight of three humpback whales subtly “surfacing” on the hilltop.

The trio repretents a portion of a series of more than 50 sea mammals-oirented pieces that the artist has created and displayed in previous exhibitions “It’s all based on environnental concerns, trying to draw attention to the damage we’ve inflicted on the oceans in particular, but anything; we’ve spoiled it all,” Mr. Parish said.

The humpbacks are crafted of welded 1~gauge steel, painted in layers and rubbed for a translucent effect.

American Beauty (Hothouse)by Constance Lowe, San Antonio:

“Overlaying aspects of the domestic and the industrial on the natural site” forms the foundation for Ms. Lowe’s highly conceptual creation. She has positioned quirky colored, vinyl-upholstered indoor furniture on the ground and suspended plywood paintings in surrounding trees, inspired by the colors of tropical orchids

_ “hothouse exotics that have to be cultivated out of their natural envronment” she explained in her sculpture statement

In addition, eight decorative, empty picture frames which have been recast in industrial aluminum are scattered about, framing views of the furniture, the natural landscape and the surrounding suburban residential development.

Carry Me Away From Here So I Can by Judith Blankman, San Francisco:

Eight red sails rotate forward, then backward, powered by the wind and cheerfully visible from most points on the Connemara grounds. Tread closer, and you’ll see that the sials drive a wheel which floats in a pool of water. One word from the work’s title is painted on each sail, creating a circular sentence.

A pipe running through an opening in the sculpture’s base attaches to the wheel, allowing it to freely rise and fall with the water level while spinning 360 degrees. The base is secured by some 1,300 pounds of sand bags, cement and gravel.

Ms. Blankman says her interest in the psychology of space and humanistic approach to art permeates her work, in which she creates spatial metaphors for human experience with architecturally inspired structures.

“This piece is for all the people who feel their potential lies someplace else, and for those who know otherwise,” the artist wrote in her statement.

To reach Connemara, take Central Expressway to Exit 34 (McDermott Drive) in Allen. Go west 1.6 miles, then left on Tatum Drive for another 1.5 miles to the site. For more information, call 521-4896.