I-89 & I-91 Sculpture Park

“We’re at the northbound I-89 rest area in Williston,” Mike Hoey said. “Steve, the viewer email is what brings us to this statue and others this week.”

“Absolutely, Mike,” noted Steve Perkins, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society. “People are interested in asking, ‘What are these sculptures hidden along I-89 and I-91?’ It’s a great story, so we’re going to go to the other side of the interstate and go south to Williston and talk to Vermont (art) Governor Bob Hannum.

“It started in 1968,” Hannum noted. “Art professor from the University of Vermont, Paul Aschenbach, decided to bring sculptors from all over the world together. He was part of this movement called the Sculpture Seminar. Every year, a sculpture symposium is held somewhere in the world. “In 1968 and 1971, two of them were here.”

“What I found fascinating was the interest in the symposium’s integration of artists and industry,” Perkins said. “(1968) was marble, in Proctor – not an ongoing project anymore (but it was very much an ongoing project in 1968) – and then in (1971) here in Williston – we’re standing in Williston – in what was called ST Griswold Concrete “.

“Paul wanted to bring together the most popular industries here that could maybe donate or contribute in some way to this movement, and also make it easier for artists to learn, exchange ideas, etc.,” Hannum continued. “At that time, in 1971, when the symposium on concrete was held, concrete was a relatively new medium (in art).”

“Sculptors were playing very stylistically on the (artistic) concept of Fauvism, then with the new medium,” Hoy observed.

“The marble sculptures in (1968) remained (in Proctor) at the Vermont Marble Company,” Hannum said. “When the sculptures were completed (1971), there were no museums large enough locally to accommodate them. An idea arose somewhere – we’re not sure where – to put them along rest areas and after 50 years, they’ve become forests – so you can’t find half of these Sculptures unless you’re looking (specifically) for them.”

“There was great concern that they would be lost,” Perkins noted. “In fact, unfortunately, one of them was destroyed (by VTrans while trying to move it), but there are some plans afoot to make it more accessible.”

“I have a company that restores contemporary sculpture, and COVID has put a stop to my work,” Hannum said. “I reached out to State Curator David Schutz. He said, ‘We have these sculptures along the highway.’ Half of them, we don’t even know where they are. Would you mind finding them and evaluating them, because I want to write a grant and see if we can get the money to restore them.” ?Surely he got that grant from the federal government – $400,000 to clean up and repair all 16 of these sculptures, plus the one I mentioned that was destroyed, to recreate them.

“Meanwhile, we found one of the marble sculptures that wasn’t placed along the highway for some reason. That’s another mystery we haven’t solved yet! So, we now have 18 sculptures, and we’ll start working, actually, next week. The 18 sculptures extend from Guildford Up to the Canadian border, so, 200 miles each way, so (total) 400 miles it’s the largest sculpture park in the world!”

“A lot of people worked on this project during the seminars and shortly thereafter,” Perkins concluded. “If someone worked on this and wanted to reach out to you, how would they do that?”

“I have website Hannum replied with my contact information.

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