'Come Here And Be': Enosburg Falls Outdoor Sculpture Park Welcomes Visitors Back
Colossal steel structures appear to defy gravity while colorful, painted metal sheets are bent into graceful forms. More than 60 of these unusual and large-scale pieces, by Vermont artist David Stromeyer, make up the Cold Hollow Sculpture Park in Enosburg Falls. It's a free, open-air gallery set in quiet, grassy meadows, and it's having its post-pandemic reopening on Saturday.
The re-opening coincides with Stromeyer's 50th year creating sculptural art in Vermont.
VPR's Mary Engisch spoke with Rosemary Branson Gill, executive director at Cold Hollow Sculpture Park. Their conversation below has beeen edited and condensed for clarity.
Mary Engisch: It's opening day: What are you feeling, and what kept you up last night about opening day at Cold Hollow Sculpture Park?
Rosemary Branson Gill: I'm relieved. We really missed having people on the grounds last summer. It's the people that make it a park. Otherwise, it's a private collection. So having people back interacting with the sculptures, interacting with nature, just being with each other. I'm relieved and excited.
If we're driving up to Enosburg [Falls] with a car full of family and we hop out, what do we see?
Well, first, you're driving on Boston Post Road, and you're looking for a ginormous steel “CHSP.” Turn into our driveway, and you go up this beautiful hill, and the view just opens up. It's like this hidden landscape. And instead of cows, which are our neighbors, you have multi-color, steel sculptures populating six meadows and mowed paths.
Some are brightly colored and almost dance-like, and some are raw steel and rusted and covered with lichen. And you just have all these opportunities to see nature in space and light in different ways. And sit down at a sculpture, draw something, chat with someone, bring a picnic. We just ask that you don't climb or throw things at the sculptures.
And no pets, right? Have to leave the dogs at home?
We do leave the dogs at home!
The perhaps bigger news here is one of transition, right? Cold Hollow is moving from from being privately owned to a nonprofit. What is that going to look like, and what shape will that take?
So we started seven years ago. And it was a sort of a private experiment. And we realized we really want to be Vermont’s sculpture park, and being a nonprofit feels like it's more collaborative.
And it really truly can be Vermont’s sculpture park for Vermonters, and I think it really is one that will allow us to feel more integrated and hopefully as welcoming as possible to all Vermonters.
It's not only for art-lovers, it's for anyone who's interested in trying something new, being curious. Like, what is it like to be under a 30-foot-tall, bright blue sculpture in the middle of a pasture in northern Vermont? There's lots of different people who come, and we want them to feel like it's their home.
Yeah, I'd love to talk more about accessibility. How are you making it so everyone does feel welcome?
Sure. First, it's free. It's always been free. And we always want it to be free. So we're open Thursdays through Sundays from noon until 6 p.m., June 12 through October 11. And it's free, you just come. So that's the most important thing.
We also make sure in terms of accessibility, with comfort with art, is we have lots of information in our welcome barn. And we also give people a booklet with information about each sculpture, if they want to know what David was thinking. And then we try, when we welcome people when they first come up and they're greeted by someone, to gauge a little bit about their interest and comfort, and give them a suggestion: “Try this piece first. Try that meadow first.”
We want to make people feel like whatever knowledge they bring is the knowledge they need to have a meaningful experience.
"So that's a really important first thing that I would say in response to the pandemic and to racial reckoning, everything. It's just to say, 'Come here and be, who you are is enough. Come here and be, can we provide that space for you?'" — Rosemary Branson Gill, Cold Hollow Sculpture Park
Reflect a bit on the last year, the global pandemic, just beginning to come to terms with racial inequities and injustices. Has that informed the way things are unrolling and happening at Cold Hollow Sculpture Park?
I don't know how this year could not be affecting how everyone is being in themselves and as organizations, and we've been reflecting and acting on a lot of it. I think first and foremost was this desperation to open so that we could be a place for people to do that reflective work themselves.
Sometimes it's hard to do it in a group or you feel tender about maybe some of your opinions or your thoughts, you don't feel yet like you know what to say, and being somewhere quiet and inspirational can be quite contemplative. And can help our visitors just grapple with those ideas and all the things they've been through this year, on their own.
So that's a really important first thing that I would say in response to the pandemic and to racial reckoning, everything. It’s just to say, “Come here and be, who you are is enough. Come here and be, can we provide that space for you?”
So, if you just need to be big and dance and jump because you've been so quiet and contained this year, do it! If you need to, you know, bring your book that's helping you address some of these ideas and you need to be alone and quiet and under a tree, come! That's really what we're trying to do in terms of addressing the past year and making ourselves a resource for Vermonters — and visitors, but particularly Vermonters.
We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.