Rockland Sculpture Race Aug. 12

Gentlemen (women, boys and girls): start your sculptures!

By Dagney C. Ernest | Aug 08, 2017
Courtesy of: Kim Bernard “Happy Campers” is one of the two Rockland Sculpture Race entries from Camden-Rockport Middle School.

Rockland — Summertime in the Lime City — art walks and music on Main Street, festivals in Harbor Park … and people-powered sculptures racing around the working waterfront? The premiere Rockland Sculpture Race is afoot, and feet will be part of the pushing, pedaling and pulling, Saturday morning, Aug. 12.

The free, fun, community arts-and-ingenuity event is the brainchild of city artist Kim Bernard, who has participated for a number of years in the People's Sculpture Race at Massachusetts’ Cambridge Arts River Festival. In fact, one of the racing sculptures she worked on in Cambridge, with a team of physicists, will be among the competitors in Rockland.

Harvard’s “Sisyphus” isn’t the only competitor that has raced before. Two of the teams — most sculptures require more than one human to get going — are made up of Camden-Rockport Middle School grads.

“I was a visual artist-in-residence at the middle school in May, working with all the eighth-graders, so we had 21 teams of four to five kids,” Bernard said a week and a half before the big day. “We worked for almost two weeks and then raced them on Knowlton Street. Two of those groups submitted their sculptures for the Rockland race.”

Bernard had some anxious times in late May; signup for the Rockland Sculpture Race was June 1 and even a few days before, she wondered if her call for entries would do the trick. In the end, it did.

“We got a lucky 13, almost all of them at the last minute,” she said.

The sculpture race teams are a good mix of individuals, teams of friends, the school participants and more.

“We’ve even got a three-generation family team,” Bernard said.

That team, “Midcoast Bound-ing,” is racing in celebration of 98-year-old Merle Brosius Archer’s recent move from Australia to Camden’s Quarry Hill. Archer and her wheelchair will be transformed into a kangaroo; she will be holding her 1-year-old great-grandson in her “pouch” and will be pushed through the race by her daughter (Anita Brosius-Scott) and her granddaughter.

In addition to “Midcoast Bound-ing,” “Sisyphus” and “Schooling,” a team led by South Boston sculptor Dennis Svoronos, the first-ever Rockland Sculpture Race contestants are: “Third Eye,” Jeff Oehlert; “Heart & Soul of Rockland,” Beth Bull; “Murmuration Wave,” Annie Bailey; “Tsunami,” Glenn Nelson and team; “The Cat in the Hat,” Rockland Children’s Museum; “Happy Campers,” Camden Eighth-Grade Team; “Dead Vrooms,” Stacey Stevenson; “Adrift in the Doldrums,” Laura Dunn; “Hibachi/Sushi,” Camden Eighth-Grade Team; and “Ode to Theo Jansen,” James Reitz. The latter, built by a talented carpenter and set designer, may even move on its own, given its nod to the Dutch artist known for fantastical beach-walking mechanisms.

Sculpture-racing, a worldwide phenomenon, has a number of agreed-upon parameters (wheels are paramount). One is that the course is less than a mile, and the Rockland Sculpture Race fills the bill. The 13 sculptures will take off — speed, while one of the award categories, is not necessarily a real factor here — from the corner of Park Drive end of Winter Street, head left on Park Drive; right on Tillson Avenue; right on Weeks Street; right on Commercial Street; and end back on Winter. Bernard suggests watching along the race-end of Park Drive.

Local art authorities Michael Komanecky, chief curator of the Farnsworth Art Museum; and Suzette McAvoy, executive director/chief curator of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, will determine awards; they, with Donna McNeil, executive director of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, did the original jurying. Award categories include spectacle, ingenuity and craftsmanship. Mostly, Bernard said, sculpture-racing is about fun.

After the race, the sculptures will be on public view in the courtyard of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and the across-Winter-Street parking lot of Dowling Walsh Gallery until noon. The free community event is sponsored by the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show, running a three-day weekend in nearby Harbor Park.

As race day approaches, the local teams are working up to the wire, and Bernard hopes both Midcoast residents and visitors will reward their diligence.

“They’re working so hard to get their entries ready, so I’m hoping for a lot of people to come and watch and make it a real lively community event,” she said.

For more information about the inaugural Rockland Sculpture Race, visit rocklandsculpturerace.org or the Facebook page.

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