Sculptor's giants to be seen in their element

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Bernard Langlais Sculpture Preserve
puts artist’s works on view in nature

CUSHING — The renowned Maine sculptor Bernard Langlais, a native of Old Town, was known for his much-larger-than-life works made from wood, created in the outdoors and meant to be viewed there. And now, 40 years after his death in 1977, they will be.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m., the public is invited to an open house at the Langlais Sculpture Preserve of the Georges River Land Trust, on the grounds of Langlais’ former home. The new outdoor preserve features trails and to walk along which sculptures have been placed. It is handicapped accessible and aesthetically exciting to see.

In 2010 Helen Langlais, widow of the sculptor, gave the entire collection of her husband’s works and their land and home to the Colby College Museum of Art. Colby kept a representative collection of his work during his life, but partnered with the Kohler Foundation which restored his collection to create the preserve.

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“We are thrilled with the outcome of this partnership between the Colby College Museum of Art, the Kohler Foundation and the Georges River Land Trust, Annette Nagel, conservation director of the Land Trust. “It is an honor to steward the legacy of Bernard Langlais with his art and the 90 acres of land that inspired him and we look forward in working with Cushing residents, schools and partner organizations, to foster artistic creativity and a strong connection to the outdoors for this generation and those to come.” 

“The sculpture area is a gem within the larger 90 acres of the preserve. We are developing trails that will expand behind the sculptures,” Nagel said.

This beautiful land preserve is a fantastic way to keep Langlais’s life and works alive for the next generation. Wood is a natural resource in Maine as well as an industry. Bernard Langlais created beauty from wood out of found objects often making them into monumental sculptures. Langlais gave us beauty. God gave us nature. The combination can be beautifully seen in the new Langlais Preserve.

As a reviewer and writer on the arts in Maine, the reason why I admire Langlais’s work is that he made beauty out of found objects. He taught us all that visual beauty can be found in seeing objects put together in different ways. His works are symbols of his values, reflecting all of humanity in his animals, with insight and a dash of humor.

The goal of establishing the Langlais Preserve is to open the area up for the general public to visit, and to educate the next generation about Langlais and the importance of art in the natural environment. The outdoor sculpture preserve and trails will be open dawn to dusk. And the studio and house will be used for educational and creative programming.

Saturday’s grand opening will include free art projects for children with local artist Susan Beebe. The tour of the Langlais home and grounds will be hosted by the staff and friends of the Georges River Land Trust. A bake sale to benefit the Cushing Community School will take place. An oral historian will collect stories from people who knew Langlais, so please come if you have stories to tell. Short films will be provided of Langlais throughout the day. Live music by Playin Possum will entertain visitors. A collection of some early paintings, photos and sculptures will also be exhibited in the house. 

Andres Verzosa, former owner of the Aucocisco Galleries of Portland, represented many of the Langlais’s works and knew Helen Langlais, personally. “Helen always hoped that her home that she shared with Blackie would be a place to share his art as a museum and sculpture park,” Verzosa said. “Her intentions were encouraged by her dear friend the late Hugh Gourley III, former director of the Colby College Museum of Art. I can only imagine that both new and old visitors will be thoroughly delighted with the public opening this fall. The sense of wonder that people will have, while seeing and walking around the large, outdoor sculptures in such a natural park-like setting, will have them coming back again and again.”

For more information, contact the Land Trust at 594-5166.

Bear sculpture by Bernard Langlais at entrance to the new Langlais Sculpture Preserve. Kohler Foundation funded restoration of many of Langlais’s sculptures that now inhabit the preserve on the grounds of the artist’s home in Cushing. The grand opening for the preserve is Saturday, Sept. 16.

Bear sculpture by Bernard Langlais at entrance to the new Langlais Sculpture Preserve. Kohler Foundation funded restoration of many of Langlais’s sculptures that now inhabit the preserve on the grounds of the artist’s home in Cushing. The grand opening for the preserve is Saturday, Sept. 16.

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