Teen Artists Unveil 'Guardians' for Rail Trail

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — In an area ever-more involved in contemporary art, nine sculptures made by teens intended eventually as "guardians" on the Ashuwillticook Trail were unveiled Monday at the Delftree mill in North Adams.

During the past 10 weeks, young sculptors Erica Varieur, Christopher Winslow, Jeffrey Filiault, Emily Jaramillo, Sean Carollo, Jordan Gardner, Erin Gerrity, and Anne Hyers have been working with accomplished professional artists Bill Botzow and Ronald Quentin Hyde to design and cast concrete guardians for the trail.

The guardians include a black cat by Filiault called "Superstition"; a crouching caveman with a spear by Carollo called "Siblings"; a giant bird called "Potions" by Varieur; "Hamadryad," a mythological tree guardian, by Gardner; "The Guardian of Water" by Hyers; "Angel" by Winslow; "Eye Spy," an eye surrounded by a tree, by Gerrity; and "Mermaid" by Jaramillo.

A low, solid, heavy-looking piece made as an untitled group project will also be put on the trail. At the unveiling, the artists took both family and friends and members of the public on a tour of the sculptures.

"The young artists who have worked on this project have made a significant contribution of time, talent, and energy to the Northern Berkshire community," Botzow states in a message in the public unveiling program. "Their personal commitment to the project's success remained strong through many meetings and several years. The project developed through numerous steps from beginning ideas to the stage where we are now. ...

"These artists developed the concept of guardians for the trail based on their imaginative responses to the varieties of places the trail connects as it flows by lakes, streams, wetlands, forests, and towns."

Botzow wrote that the artists first met in the spring of 2001 and explored the trail and the group's ideas. Then they created preliminary models that were shown in Adams last June.

"We were encouraged by the town's positive response and subsequent support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council," Botzow writes. "This spring the project worked with Ron Hyde, a master in the art of concrete sculpture casting. His expertise, incredibly hard work and rapport with the project artists helped realize their vision of imaginative, beautiful and unique sculptures for the Ashuwillticook Trail."

This is a project of UNITY, a youth development program of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. Erica Schmitz, UNITY program coordinator, explained what the next step in the project would be: The installation phase will be done in two parts. First, the sites along the trail need preparation. Eight sites along the trail have been chosen, in cooperation with MassHighway and the Department of Environmental Management.

"Next we need to level them out, pour gravel and concrete," Schmitz said, adding that this will happen at the end of the summer or early fall. "We are currently looking for contractors to donate services because our budget is running low."

Any contractor interested in donating services should contact Schmitz at 663-7588.

"The step after that is actually mounting the sculptures on the trail, and that will most likely be next spring. We want to wait until then because that's when the trail will be more closely monitored," she said. "Over the winter, they might not be supervised, so we think it will be less risky to install them in the spring. ...

"I have just been so impressed with the incredible amount of work that the young artists and the lead artists have done," she  continued. "They've put in just countless hours and sweat and tears into this project. We've also had a lot of community support."

For instance, the Delftree Corp. has been greatly helpful in donating the space for the sculptures to be made and a forklift to remove them from the sand. Mark Rondeau photos


Tags: art installation,   NBCC,   teenagers,   

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