Among works in the outdoor sculpture exhibit currently at Evergreen House is an array of curved mirrors that cling to the historic Garrett mansion's sun-drenched south lawn, looking for all the world like rows of shiny blue buttons sewn onto the grass.
The piece, titled Silent Sky's Blueprint on Earth, was made specifically for this exhibit by Romanian-born artist Doina Adam, who used 72 security mirrors - the kind found in elevators, convenience stores, banks, etc. - to create a 650-square-foot meditation on the unity of nature.
Adam's site-specific sculpture is one of the loveliest pieces in this intriguing show, a work that combines conceptual sophistication with visual simplicity and elegance. Each of its individual mirrors reflects a slightly different view of landscape and sky, whose colors change with the weather and the sun's passage overhead.
"I believe at this time of disturbance and great hope for peace, my work will help people get closer to nature and its silent equilibrium," Adam says in text accompanying this work, which she calls a "dialogue and reflection among the elements."
A similar dialogue, propelled by high-tech systems, activates the work of Mara Adamitz Scrupe, whose outdoor organic gardens are maintained by solar- and wind-powered mechanical caretakers.
In Eden, a small circular garden of hosta plants, a flat solar panel tilted toward the sky converts sunlight into electricity. That power is stored in batteries and used to operate a network of pumps and hoses bringing water from a nearby stream to the plants at regular intervals.
Scrupe's work, sited on a remote section of the mansion grounds, is in one sense a protest against the burning of fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases and global warming. But it is also an homage to plant life and what her artist's statement refers to as the "crucial spiritual connection between humanity and the efficiency, wildness, beauty and sensory delight of the natural environment."
Roberley Bell spent her childhood in Latin America and Southeast Asia before attending art school in New York. Her installation, entitled Listen, is enclosed by the ivy-covered red brick walls of the "friendship garden" created by former Evergreen House owner Alice Warder Garrett as a place for intimate outdoor gatherings.
Bell's piece consists of several large free-standing vases made of wire framing covered with Astroturf and artificial flowers and filled with fragrant beeswax. Like other pieces in the show, it contains personal references to the Garrett family history, in this case with quotations from the works of novelist Evelyn Waugh, a great friend of Alice Garrett, stenciled on the garden benches.
The outdoor show also has works by Foon Sham, Manuel Acevedo, Laura Amussen, David Hess, Brece V. Honeycutt, Steve Reber and Joyce J. Scott.
While you're there, stop by the mansion's North Wing, where artist Randy C. Bolton, is displaying his "Books of Nonsense," small sculptures inspired by the imagery of late-19th- and early 20th-century children's books.
What: Sculpture at Evergreen
Where: Evergreen House, 4545 N. Charles St.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; through Sept. 30
Admission: $6 for adults; $5 for seniors; $3 for students