Arline Peartree's sculpture 'La Traviata' was inspired by curling leaves.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Arline Peartree conceived and sculpted "La Traviata" more than 20 years ago when she was living in Averill Park, N.Y.
But she said the apple red metal sculpture is right at home on the 18th fairway at Waubeeka Golf Links.
"After I thought about the sculpture and all the different parabolic curves that it has, it's similar to this beautiful parabolic curve that a golf ball makes," Peartree said as she regarded the newest outdoor installation on the South Williamstown layout. "It just seemed fitting that it would be on a golf course.
"Because I am not athletic, when I look at these various athletes move, I think of them as dancers in space. I don't think of what they're doing in terms of killing themselves or hurting their bodies. I think of the movement they make."
Peartree, who now lives near Miami, was back in the Northeast to see how a work she describes as one of her favorites looks beside New Ashford Road (Route 7).
It was not golf, or even sports, that inspired her to create the towering, flowing sculpture. But nature was very much on her mind.
"I wanted to show how the steel could look really fragile," Peartree said. "And I love the look of nature and the way the leaves curl. I was making a lot of shapes similar to the way a leaf curls up in space.
"Then by putting it all together, you can have the idea of kinetic motion rippling all around. And then to put it in a way that looks graceful, that's what it meant."
What it means for the golf course is another work of art for a growing collection that now stands at 10 sculptures — some, like "La Traviata," visible from Route 7 and some to be discovered on the grounds.
"I would like it to be complementary to Mass MoCA, complementary to the Clark," Waubeeka owner Mike Deep said. "The Clark's got a very nice outdoor walk.
"And we want to sell these pieces and get new pieces in. It's going to help the golf course because we'll make a little money selling them, and the artists will make money. It's a win-win."
"La Traviata" marks the second installation of a Peartree work currently in Williamstown. Her "Counterpoint" is part of the collection of the Williams College Museum of Art and resides at Field Farm
And she is a familiar name on the Berkshires art scene, having had solo exhibitions at Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow and the Berkshire Museum.
Also a painter and a professor of art history, Peartree discovered sculpture while studying art at the State University of New York at Albany. From the beginning, she found herself working a grand scale well suited to outdoor installations.
"My college, the State University of Albany, did not want to put my sculptures in the gallery becaue the maintenance men would have to work too hard dragging them in," Peartree said. "In order to get a master's [degree], that's what I had to do. So I had to find somewhere to put on a show.
"I found the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and I dragged my sculptures up there."
That also turned out to be the first time Peartree, now a ballroom dance enthusiast, found a connnection between her art and the dance world.
"It happened that the New York City Ballet was at [SPAC], and the ballerinas climbed on top of the sculptures to take pictures," she said. "I had just learned how weld, and when I saw those pictures — I wasn't there when they climbed up — I was so afraid that the sculpture would break or bend and cause an accident. I was so grateful that my welds were good enough.
"That was the beginning."