A woman in the woods at Field Farm in fall

It’s an unusually warm fall day when I find myself eye to eye with a woman resting in the grass. The sun is shining on her bare shoulders, and she’s sitting with her eyes closed under the last of the golden maples. She’s 50 this year, and she’s warm glinting bronze, a sculpture in the garden at Field Farm.

A plaque almost too worn to read gives her name as Diane. And I wonder how she came to rest here under the trees. The Bloedel family, who lived here, gathered Modern art and sculpture — and they gave the house and fields and trails to the Trustees of Reservations — but why then would they have brought her here, a realistic bronze woman, taut and fit, with her head turned as though she’s listening?

Her sculptor, Richard M. Miller, was not known as a Modernist — not from what I can find. Not so many smooth industrial planes or metal slabs. While the art world was swinging into abstraction and irony, he became known as the Figure Sculptor of SoHo.

In the 1960s — at 40 — he left the family business in Ohio, and he and his wife, Gloria, moved to New York. He made a second life for himself as an artist. He taught at Queens College, and he used to sculpt from live models in wax and clay.

He was working in New York in 1971, when he cast Diane into bronze. So who was she, sitting in his studio on a sunny morning and leaning her head in her hand? Maybe he meant the name as mythic allusion, but she looks calm and intent to me — not a hunter in longbow season, but a woman at peace in the woods.

Up here in fields turning dry bronze in fall, she feels natural, as though she might get up at dusk and walk through the cattails along the edge of the pond and watch the full moon tonight in the water.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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