In August I wandered one afternoon through the Field Sculpture Park at ArtOMI — the OMI International Arts Center in Ghent, N.Y. I’ve known of ArtOMI for many years and never seen it until this hot, still, quiet noonday. Some of the work seems to come organically out of the woods and fields, and some draws a deliberate contrast to them with all the subtletly of a chrome yellow buzz saw.
One contrast has stayed with me. I had just come from Little Ghent Farm, where Jesse Tolz, a young farmer growing flowers and vegetables, explained to me why he had seeded his field insteand of transplanting seedlings. He sewed seeds directly into the field, rather than starting them in seed trays or small pots, because a plant that grows in the ground can establish a taproot and keep it intact, he said.
Here in the sculpture park I saw Robert Montgomery’s work, with its the signlike legend: “And the trees are sentinels of something, standing there between the buildings and breathing like horses all night.” He made trees watchful, alive, warm-blooded and running with sap. And nearby in the same field a sapling tree stood encased in what looked like thick rubber. Fresh from that farm conversation, I saw that rubber enclosing the tree’s rootball so that it too could not send down a taproot — cutting it off from water on this hot, dry day.