(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – Poet William Cullen Bryant celebrated the quintessential American landscape in his verse, “A Summer Ramble,” which, like many of his works, drew inspiration from the Berkshire countryside where he found solace in nature, away from the responsibilities of man. Sohn Fine Art Gallery presents A Summer Ramble, a group exhibition featuring 12 contemporary artists and curated by Cassandra Sohn. Through photography and mixed media, artists explore the visual and conceptual metaphors of this 19th century poem from a contemporary point of view. An opening reception for the show takes place on Saturday, July 2, from 5 to 8. The exhibition runs through August 22.
Photographer John Atchley’s softly focused, impressionistic photographs capture a transcendental stillness while paying homage to the exuberant and colorful summer landscape. Stephen G. Donaldson and Kevin Sprague’s valley scenes convey, as Bryant rambles it in his poen, “the calm profound… Rest here, beneath the unmoving shade, And on the silent valleys gaze, Winding and widening, till they fade, In yon soft ring of summer haze.”
Encaustic collages by Irmari Nacht feature soft white clouds drifting languidly in blue skies. Layered on the canvas are slivers of verse taken from books by William Wordsworth, who influenced Bryant, and Walt Whitman, whom Bryant mentored. Complimenting her collages are two old, deconstructed sculptural books that feature these writers. Nacht crafts these books as a metaphor – restructuring words to represent transformation and change in reconstruction, highlighting the strength and energy of repeated elements, like Bryant’s quatrains.
This exhibition is showcased at two locations, Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Stockbridge, Mass., and the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, Mass. At the Homestead, the exhibition is installed inside the historically preserved, Victorian rooms of Bryant’s estate, creating a contrast between Bryant’s original, 19th century décor and the contemporary pieces. Each work is placed with intention to accentuate the conceptual aspects present in the pieces. Nacht’s deconstructed book sits in the library where Bryant wrote his poetry. Monika Sosnowski’s photograph of flowered linen blowing sweetly in the breeze looks like it could have been one of Julia’s (Bryant’s daughter) belongings.
Artists represented in the show include John Atchley, Patrick Barry, Stephen G. Donaldson, Ken Green, Martin Greene, Mona Mark, Irmari Nacht, Terry Rosen, Cassandra Sohn, Monika Sosnowski, Kevin Sprague, and Sabine Vollmer Von Falken.
A portion of all sales will be donated to The Trustees of Reservations to support the conservation of the William Cullen Bryant Homestead.
Sohn Fine Art Gallery
6 Elm Street
Gallery Hours Thursday – Monday, 10 – 5
William Cullen Bryant Homestead exhibition July 2 – August 27.
Bryant Day Festival Saturday, July 16 from noon to 4, with exhibition reception tour from 3 to 4. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington, Mass. http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/pioneer-valley/bryant-homestead.html
Cassandra Sohn (photographer and owner of Sohn Fine Art) is teaching a photography workshop based on the exhibition entitled, “Photographing with Poet William Cullen Bryant as Your Muse.” The weekend workshop runs July 23 & 24 through IS183 Art School of the Berkshires. For more information or to sign up visit: IS183 Art School of the Berkshires