BENTON, Wis. — A 25-by-25-foot art piece created by Rountree Gallery president and artist Bill Mitchell has been installed in the yard of fellow artist and gallery curator Mary Bergs.
“Penrose 398,” a sculptural work that was installed a few weeks ago, was constructed from box elder and black locust limbs. The piece took about two days, working eights hours per day, to install.
“Bill had everything pre-cut and ready to install,” Bergs said. “So there was work in getting that all set up (ahead of the installation).”
“I was in my studio for about four days, maybe five days, getting everything ready,” Mitchell said.
The sculpture is part of this year’s Terrain Exhibitions Biennial. Founded in Oak Park, Ill., five years ago, the biennial was created in the spirit of building community through public art. Starting with one block in Oak Park, the project has spread nationally and internationally.
“We applied and were accepted,” Bergs said. “Bill and I think it’s important that these projects happen not just in Chicago or New York, but out here in southwest Wisconsin, too.”
Mitchell named the piece for Roger Penrose, a British mathematician, and the street numbers of Bergs’ home.
“Penrose uses random patterns, but there is a mathematical order to it,” Mitchell said. “That’s been a theme of my work for a long time. Order and chaos. Structure and collapse.”
Mitchell said he spent some time in the space where the sculpture would go, scoping it out and deciding what would best fit there.
“It was designed for the space,” he said. “Because it’s a public piece, we wanted to keep it fairly close to the road. I took photographs and did concept drawings of what would fit in that space.”
Even before the piece was completely installed, Bergs knew it was perfect.
“It has branches that extend, so it really plays nicely in the yard,” she said. “It seems like it really belongs there.”
This is not the first time that Mitchell has created art that is larger than life.
“I have another piece I just installed in August at the Platteville (Wis.) Arboretum that spans about 75 feet,” he said.
Mitchell said scale is important when marrying a piece of art to a particular space.
“It is doesn’t have some scale to it, it would just disappear into the landscape,” he said. It’s very different from an urban installation where you have tighter spaces.
“Penrose398” will remain in Bergs’ yard until at least mid-November.
“We’re thinking we’ll leave it up a little past that to see snow on it,” Mitchell said. “Then it will be dismantled and either used for other sculptures, as firewood or composted.”
Bergs said she is looking forward to seeing those who visit the exhibit at 398 Jenkinsville Road in Benton.
“Drive by, park your car, walk around it,” she said. “We want people to see it and enjoy it.”