Landscape Artist Bob Boemig discusses his Iconic Work, ‘Land Lift,’ at BMAC on Sunday, October 22, at 3 p.m, with refreshments provided by Cai’s Dim Sum Catering.
Is it a park bench? A playground? A place of comfort and serenity? “Land Lift”—the sculpture made of steel, earth, and grass by landscape artist Bob Boemig that lies in front of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC)—is all of those things.
Originally intended to last only a few weeks, the iconic sculpture turns 30 this year. To mark the occasion, Boemig will give a talk at BMAC on Sunday, October 22, at 3 p.m. He will discuss how “Land Lift” came to be, and how it relates to other public artworks he has created over the years. Admission is free and open to all. Visitors are invited to arrive early or stay late to spend time with—and on—“Land Lift,” and to enjoy refreshments provided by Cai’s Dim Sum Catering.
In the years since Boemig installed “Land Lift” in 1993, many people have approached him to say that they played on the sculpture as a kid. “It’s given me a great deal of joy, because it’s here in the town I was brought up in,” he says. “Not many artists have that opportunity.”
For “Land Lift,” Boemig imagined “changing the landscape just a little bit, so the ground looked as though it was being raised up, almost like a magic carpet.” That approach succeeded so well that 30 years later, the sculpture has become an organic part of the museum. “It would be difficult—and sad—to imagine BMAC without it,” says BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld.
Landscape Artist Bob Boemig
For more than 40 years, Boemig has been creating outdoor landscape sculptures for a variety of institutions, including the deCordova Museum, Williams College, and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College. His artistic intention is to always respond to the characteristics of the environment he’s working in—to complement and enhance, not contradict. “I look for a spot that is less used and try to make it usable,” he explains. “I don’t like creating something that takes away from something else around it. My main goal is to create a free-flowing entrance into something that pulls you in without realizing that it is actually a sculpture.”
Calling himself a “backyard artist,” Boemig recalls how the construction of the I-91 and I-89 highways captured his imagination as a kid. “It was such an eye-opening experience to see them contour the land and make that little green stripe between north and south, crossing the state,” he says. Today, Boemig collaborates with landscapers and construction workers who operate excavators, backhoes, and dump trucks to move the earth, grass, and metal in his projects, but back when he was in art school, he began much more simply—with a shovel as his sculpting tool.
“Sometimes people are sitting on my work and they don’t even realize it’s a piece of sculpture, and to me, that’s great. That’s what I think public art is all about.” ~ Bob Boemig
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10-4. Admission is free, courtesy of M&T Bank. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.
BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Beer Co.