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Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Inside/Outside at Lynden Sculpture Garden

A sense of play amidst the stately grandeur

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The Lynden Sculpture Garden is a bucolic place; its 40 acres and sprawling house used to be the home of Harry and Peg Bradley, but have found a new purpose since 2010 as a progressive art venue. The latest installment of the Inside/Outside Series features the work of artists Nancy Popp and Paul Druecke. In the living room gallery, photographs articulate changing light and weather, displayed like an afternoon of transitory clouds. Druecke’s rugs on the floors are woven maps of land ownership, chronicling the social geography from the abundant spaces of the north shore to the dense lots of Riverwest.

Los Angeles-based Popp includes mason line as part of her creative materials. Mason line is used in bricklaying to build a straight wall but she runs it between trees outside, drawing attention to a path through the landscape. Sometimes it is a little cat-and-mouse as the line is found but then lost among the wilds. It is playful, tinged with the absurd; the line is like a wannabe, artificial horizon that sometimes ends up in a scuffle and tangle with a tree. Popp has also made an orange hammock, using a woven technique inspired by her recovery after a motorcycle accident. Think of knitting the elements of life back together and the creation of strong bonds through that process.

Popp’s linear, sky-sited installation is discreet whereas Milwaukee-based artist Paul Druecke’s Garden Path is direct, though not without its own sense of play. Engraved markers punctuate a woodchip-lined path and in the course of preparing a place to put our feet, he leads the viewer to designated locations. A portion of path leads from the parking lot to a gate in the wooden perimeter fence. Go ahead, open the door and step outside for an additional surprise.

What these artists do in these modest ways is draw focus to place and movement. If the result is a heightened awareness of the self within a landscape, the Lynden is a sympathetic venue for just that experience.

“Inside/Outside: Nancy Popp + Paul Druecke” continues through Oct. 26 at the Lynden Sculpture Garden (2145 W. Brown Deer Road). An upcoming event will feature Druecke reading from his book Life and Death on the Bluffs, along with authors Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes speaking on their recent Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, early chronicler of plants, rocks, rivers, mounds and all things Wisconsin. The event will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7.