Hyungsub Shin's sculpture Rhizome adheres to
Evergreen's Carriage House wall like a
camouflaged alien invader, which in many respects it is.
Thankfully for the peaceful citizens of
Baltimore, Rhizome is benign art, not some B-movie monster
bent on wanton destruction.
For the sculpture, the New York-based artist pieced
together sheaves of multicolored
electrical wires on a gridlike trellis that once supported
wisteria vines on the side of the building,
located on the Evergreen
Museum & Library property. The result is a complex
network of dendritic
forms intended to mimic nature, whether perceived as an
alien plant, flowering nerve cells or a brain
synapse. In any case, it's clear that many synapses fired
during the creation of Rhizome, one of 10
thought-provoking works on display in Evergreen Museum &
Library's fifth biennial outdoor sculpture
Sculpture at Evergreen 2008 will open with a public
reception from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May
4, and will continue through Sunday, Sept. 28.
The show features new works of temporary sculpture,
spread throughout the 26-acre property,
created by artists from across the United States. Intended
to push the boundaries of the art form,
the event encourages the exploration of untraditional
James Archer Abbott, curator of Evergreen, calls
Shin's sculpture "an intimate piece" that, like
the exhibition's other works, offers more than meets the
eye. On closer inspection, you notice that
the various twisted telephone wires and metallic ribbons
have no link to the soil but rather connect to
an electrical outlet on the side of the Carriage House
wall. What first appears as nature arguably
becomes a symbol of mankind's dominance over it.
Unlike most of the sculptures in this year's
exhibition, Rhizome does not loudly advertise its
"The sad thing is that people walk by without even
looking at it, like it's not for everyone to
see," says Abbott, who became Evergreen curator in
November. "The piece requires you to open your
eyes in a different way."
The 2008 exhibition is guest curated by Andrea Pollan,
an art dealer, consultant, appraiser,
writer and founding director of Curator's Office in
Washington, D.C. She has organized more than 100
exhibitions of contemporary art and has written numerous
catalogs and exhibition brochures.
Pollan describes Sculpture at Evergreen 2008 as "less
about nature than about man's incursion
"Many of the works pop out of their natural setting
rather than blend into it harmoniously," she
says, "as has been the case with some of the past Sculpture
at Evergreen exhibitions."
'Hideouts,' a pair of Sioux tepees
by J Hill, stand guard on Evergreen's front
lawn before the installation of 'Green Golly' on the
portico. They are among
the 10 works in 'Sculpture at Evergreen 2008' that will
grace the grounds
through Sept. 28.
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS
Sharon Engelstein's Green Golly stands out like an
X-Games skateboarder at a fancy-dress
cocktail party. The 15-foot-tall electric green inflatable
sculpture sits between the white soaring
Greek columns of Evergreen's front portico. An
exemplification of pop art, Green Golly sprouts puffy
protuberances that comically contrast with the portico's
muted colors and neoclassical lines.
"Here we have the artist really responding to the
formality of the architecture," Abbott says.
"What she provided us was a whimsical counterpart to the
building's templelike facade. There is
something very humorous about it. My own take is that we
should not take ourselves too seriously."
The artists, selected by the guest curator, are each
provided with a $3,000 honorarium for
fabrication and $1,000 for installation and
de-installation. They are given the freedom to design
whatever they wish, using whatever material they want. The
only stipulation is that he or she come to
Evergreen first and be inspired by the landscape or history
of the 150-year-old estate.
The sculpture Animal Shrine, for example, draws its
inspiration from Evergreen's collection of
Japanese art. The structure consists of wood and willow
branches, and its roof is decorated with
motifs similar to those stenciled in the museum's Leon
Evergreen House, an Italianate building with classical
revival additions, was built in 1857 by the
Broadbent family. It was purchased in 1878 by John W.
Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad, for his son, T. Harrison Garrett. T. Harrison and
his wife, Alice Whitridge Garrett, oversaw
an ambitious program of renovation and construction on the
estate during the 1880s. The couple's
eldest son, John Work Garrett, inherited the house in 1920,
and he and his wife, Alice Warder
Garrett, continued the tradition of expanding the house and
adding to its collections. John Work
Garrett died in 1942, bequeathing the estate to Johns
Alice Warder Garrett, who lived at Evergreen until her
death in 1952, welcomed artists,
performers and scholars there to draw inspiration from the
property's rich historic collection and
impressive setting. Abbott says that the Sculpture at
Evergreen exhibition continues this legacy,
allowing the museum's historic collections to become a
vibrant, creative source for new works and
"Evergreen was never intended to be another stagnant
historic house museum," Abbott says. "I
knew when I arrived here it must continue to be a backdrop
and inspiration for artists from around
the world. This house lives through concept art. It would
die if we stop such things."
In addition to Shin and Engelstein, the artists, some
of them acclaimed and others relatively
unknown, are Brian Balderston, Adam Frelin, Jeannine
Harkleroad, Rebecca Herman and Mark
Shoffner, J Hill, Michele Kong, Wee Lit Tan and Mike
Other works in the exhibition include a fluorescent
yet translucent lattice blanket made of
fused acrylic strips, a pair of Sioux tepees, a linear cube
decorated with multicolored outdoor lighting,
a booth of artificial night, a fragile metal ladder that
straddles a stream, a broken lighthouse and the
installation of an all-weather LCD television that plays a
loop of a bizarre railroad-inspired narrative.
Hours of the exhibition, which is free and open to the
public, are 9 a.m. to dusk Monday through
Friday and noon to dusk on Saturday and Sunday; walking
maps and a free illustrated visitor's guide are
available in the Evergreen Museum & Library shop.
On June 26 and July 17, starting at 5:30 p.m., the
museum will host "A Summer Evening at
Evergreen," featuring an in-depth look at the sculpture
exhibition and the museum's first-floor rooms.
The evenings also will include a close-up look at the
17th-century Shakespeare folios in Evergreen's
rare-book library and dress rehearsals of Twelfth Night
(June 26) and The Taming of the Shrew (July
17) by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. Performances
start at 8 p.m.
For more information on Evergreen, and to make event
reservations, call 410-516-0341 or go to