Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Exploring--Sculpture Garden in Warwick, New York

Friends in Warwick, New York introduced us to an amazing local collection of iron sculptures in a bucolic natural setting. After a phone call to the descendants of the artist, Frederick Franck, we were granted admission to the grounds and were the only visitors that afternoon savoring this quiet, almost worshipful, setting. Pacem in Terris, the name of the property, aptly describes both the goals and subject matter of the art and the experience the visitor receives.
Originally from the Netherlands, oral surgeon Frederick Franck gradually evolved from being a hobby artist in the 1930s to devoting his full time and attention to what he described as a pilgrimage of "seeing". Some of his works testify directly to the horrors of war and violence; others more subtly suggest the beauty and preciousness of all life, our environment, and peaceful living. He described his art as the central spiritual quest of his life, a search for "seeing" in the deepest sense. Some of his works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, all in New York City, and elsewhere around the world. But I cannot imagine that seeing his works in any other setting could equal the inspiration of viewing the pieces on the grounds of his simple former home (now a small museum and bookstore).
These photos, from our memorable time at Pacem in Terris, show one of my favorite sculptures, the plaque about its meaning, and the rushing stream near the restored 18th century watermill Franck and his wife, Claske, lived and worked in for many years. If the photos are not clear, you may click on them for a larger view.
I have just been rereading sections from a book I purchased there, Fingers Pointing Toward the Sacred, a sort of memoir of parts of his lifetime spiritual quest in various cultures, including his account of interviews with Pope John XXIII, the Dalai Lama, Albert Schweitzer, and others. The book contains a number of his moving and evocative spare line drawings of people and places. The activity of losing himself in seeing and drawing formed a kind of meditative practice for him.
This season of renewed hope for "peace on earth" and for the coming New Year seemed an appropriate time to recall this remarkable artist and seeker and to show you one of his works.
Question of the day: Well, more of a thought--in my life's journey I have learned and benefited most from the wisdom of thoughtful, people who do not claim to be wise. I had that feeling of deep learning as we experienced Franck's art and as I read his reflections.


  1. Happy New Year Mary! Very thoughful post here today. I do love sculpture gardens and one of my favorites is next to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I used to take my senior high school History/Humanities students there for our picnic break after a morning tour of the Mpls Institute of Art. Yes I tried to link art to European history with the help of some wonderfully talented and creative docents there. :)

  2. TB, I wish I could have been in the classes that benefited from your creative, interesting teaching. Thank you for your comment; I love the way so many different people's experiences and thoughts connect and enrich us all.

  3. "others more subtly suggest the beauty and preciousness of all life, our environment, and peaceful living. He described his art as the central spiritual quest of his life, a search for "seeing" in the deepest sense"

    i am already a fan Franck's arts, thank you so much for sharing Mary!

    your photos have testified to everything! will add it to my dream list of places to visit someday. :)

    may 2011 be another blessed year to you and your love ones! :)

  4. Stunning photos, Mary! Bucolic indeed! I've been out of the loop for months (circumstances beyond my control), so how goes the painting?

  5. Great to hear from you, Cher, and amazed the we have an appreciation of Franck's work in common. It truly is a small world! And, of course, he had a deep appreciation for the spiritual growth he experienced in many parts of (what we call :>) the Far East. Thank you for your blessings, and I pray for a super 2011 for you and yours.

    Sherry, I love hearing from you and hope it means that life is improving and settling down for you. May 2011 bring you and your family renewed prosperity, health, and all good things. Thanks for your kind comments; it would have been difficult to take a poor photo of this lovely, tranquil place, and it was really showing off that October day. I'll post more about painting soon--was a bit slow in Nov. & Dec. (although I sold a piece--see a recent posting for that story--I think it is one you liked). Now am back to a couple of months of using Linda Blondheim's e-critique service, which always provides excellent incentive to have progress to send to her each week.