The Art in Nature program provides a vital platform for artistic experimentation and curious exploration that becomes a part of the entire ecosystem of Bernheim, and inspiring our deep connections with nature, providing visitors with a sense of discovery. Arts in Nature programs include the Artist in Residence Program, Sited @ Bernheim, Local Use by Local Artists and CONNECT. In addition, many of the sculptures in the arboretum are from the Artist in Residence program, begun in 1980. Individuals have generously donated other sculptures over the years of operation.
1)Earth Measure by Matt Weir, 2013 The artist, Matt Weir, was set to task to create a sculpture in honor of Barry Bingham Jr. over three years ago. He looked beyond creating a simple figurative likeness or a traditional sculptural tribute. He researched his subject, conducted interviews with family members and dug deep in to the principles that were an important to both Barry Bingham Jr. and to Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.
Bingham truly appreciated nature and the environment and was passionate about its preservation. He believed that there was nothing more important than public service and he held an unmitigated appreciation and commitment to supporting the education, research and protecting the land that constitutes Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. He also believed that photography and art were important means of capturing and appreciating the world, and nature, as we know it.
From the early ideas and sketches, through out the various stages of process to its completion, Earth Measure has been a challenging; enlightening and profoundly fulfilling sculpture to watch develop. The sheer size and weight of the limestone material created unique demands. The complicated yet somewhat archaic methods of production tested and stretched the artist, the staff and various trades-people along the way.
Earth Measure is an educational, interactive and multi-dimensional earthwork that must be experienced to be appreciated. It poses questions that involve fundamental forms; the circle, square and triangle. It invites discovery by all ages both physically and intellectually. It places the visitor in a meadow and beckons them to tune in to acoustic ecology and soundscape science. The sculpture both frames the environment through its “lens” and captures the sounds of seasonal wildlife through audio waves directed to the center of the listening dome or parabolic sphere. It is simultaneously simple and complex, scientific and artistic, monumental and graceful.
Earth Measure also fulfills Isaac Wolfe Bernheim’s deepest intention for the gift he gave the people of Kentucky, when he established the arboretum and research forest. It creates an inspirational and uniquely contemplative space, or stage, as it were, for people to connect deeply with nature.
Earth Measure is located at the east end of the Big Prairie. It sits adjacent to the large wildflower and wild grass habitat which protects and feeds the many birds and insects that thrive at Bernheim. It is also available as a rental space for special occasions as it creates a natural stage and has a flat lawned terrace.
Russ Vogt, a former resident of Louisville, is painter and sculptor. His work can be characterized as demonstrating a passion for both material and process. Vogt’s Bernheim sculpture utilizes a rich palette of ceramic glazes that range from deep blues and greens to hot orange and reds. The forms are often whimsical and made of handmade mosaic tile shards that cover an underlying armature. The Bernheim piece, which serves as a playful greeting to visitors, was given as an anonymous donation.
3) Untitled by Jerry Bleem, 2002
Jerry Bleem is a painter and sculptor who teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. His work transforms everyday discarded materials and creates organic forms through a time intensive process. This piece is a locally cast bronze of a form created by using thousands of common staples and discarded paper to create this shape. Bleem was an Artist in Residence in 2002.
Heike Endemann has three pieces at Bernheim. As one of the 2011 Artists in Residence, she utilized fallen logs, in a variety of species, and a chain saw to create these abstract, totemic sculptures. One is located in front of the Education Center, one is inside the Visitor Center and two forms are located in the trees adjacent to Visitor Center Drive, looking south on to the Big Prairie.
Ernest Shaw, New York painter and sculptor created this 3-piece sculpture in Cor-Ten steel. Nestled in the Holly Collection, this large, abstract sculpture forms three points of a triangle. Over the last four decades, Shaw produced a prolific body, exploring a variety of different mediums and techniques and challenging the fundamental concepts of balance, composition, gravity, compression and expansion. It was given as a generous donation by John and Mary Moss Greenebaum.
This elegant bronze statue of a woman with uplifted arms by world-renowned sculptor, George Grey Barnard, is mounted on a granite base at the gravesite of founder Isaac Wolfe Bernheim and his wife. The sculpture stands above a stone semi-circle and is flanked by granite pylons representing the Jewish and Christian religions. A nearby bronze plaque reads: “May light, the symbol of life and truth, illumine the paths of good citizenship and reason, and tolerance and fairness guide our relationship with our fellow men.” One of America’s most gifted and interesting sculptors, George Grey Barnard (1863-1938) studied in the US and abroad. He received numerous public commissions including the Pennsylvania State Capitol, a colossal project containing 32 figures. A 14-foot tall statue of Lincoln, created in 1917 at the commission of Charles P. Taft, stands in Lytle Park in downtown Cincinnati. A second casting of the Lincoln statue stands in Manchester, England (1919). A third one (1922) stands in Louisville, on the lawn of the Free Public Library. The statue, a gift given by Mr. and Mrs. Bernheim, was dedicated October 26, 1922.
This abstracted “blossom” form sculpture by Paul Fields was dedicated on November 16, 2003, in honor of the artist’s mother, and donated to Bernheim by the Fields family. It sits on the Lake Nevin Loop Trail just off the main drive into Bernheim.
This abstracted, organic form, carved in limestone was originally started in Louisville and finished on site by Bernheim’s first Artist in Residence in 1980. A renowned Kentucky sculptor, Fields was recognized internationally for his stone and wood abstract sculptures. The artist was responsible for mentoring a number of sculptors in stone – Don Lawler, Matt Weir, Mike Ratterman and Larry Beisler are among the young artists who studied with him.
The artist is a self-taught sculptor who discovered the three-dimensional process through paper sculpture. In 1991, she discovered stone carving and began to create wildlife and figurative works. She now produces limited edition bronzes as well as small and monumental-scale works in stone. Dr. Varley E. Wiedeman donated the sculpture in memory of ornithologist, fellow faculty member at U of L, and former Bernheim board member, Dr. Burt Monroe.
Located on Tablet Hill near the main entrance is a stanza from one of Pierson Merrill’s songs, Not Alone for Mighty Empire. It commemorates I.W. Bernheim’s love and respect for all humanity.
Located beside Lake Nevin near the Quiet Garden, this abstract red steel sculpture was commissioned by Al and Vicki Mattox as a memorial to their son. Its design includes universal joints that originally allowed it to be multi-positional, participatory and playful in nature. It now stands in a sedentary position and suggested forms are found by walking around it.