There are only a few days left to view “Dorothy Riester Retrospective: A Sculpture Exhibition” at the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.
Held in the John and Virginia Winner Memorial Art Gallery, over 40 pieces of Riester’s career-spanning works will be on display until 5 p.m. May 27.
“It represents nine decades of art, by a woman who got into sculpture when women didn’t get into sculpture,” said Executive Director Joseph A. Scala. “At the time, women were mostly painters. Riester was a pioneer, and her work is very good. It touches upon a number of different genres using a number of different materials. It’s something to see a lifetime of work from any one person.”
Riester, who will turn 95 in November, originally purchased the 25-acre plot of land with her husband, Bob, in 1958. While the couple always welcomed picnickers and hikers to their land, in 1991 they decided to officially open the grounds as an art park. This year, the park celebrates its 20th year of operation as a non-profit organization, having been supported entirely by memberships, donations and grants.
The Stone Quarry Hill Art Park now sits upon 104 acres of protected land and boasts 60 works of art among its five miles of walking trails. The building at the foot of the hill, near the entrance of the park, hosts Riester’s personal residence, and the “artist’s lodge.” Complete with a lounge, communal kitchen and four bedrooms, the lodge is used to accommodate visiting artists as a part of the park’s “Artists in Residence Program.” Available for two to four weeks at a time, artists from around the world have come to stay and create works to be displayed around the park. In the past 20 years 86 artists from 20 U.S. states and eight foreign countries have visited.
With a sharp memory, bright smile and quick wit, Riester often walks the park’s trails, enjoying the ambiance she helped create with her husband. While 85 percent of the park’s outdoor art is the work of guests of the Residence Program, Riester has contributed a number of memorable pieces to the many walking paths and meadows. Currently on display in her Retrospective Exhibition are Riester’s earliest and most recent pieces, along with works that are normally kept around the property.
Riester’s works span a multitude of mediums. She is an accomplished welder, and has worked with many earthen materials. She prefers to work with copper and clay, however, one of the eye catching pieces prominently featured in the exhibition is her marble work “Mother and Child.” She recalls the challenging creative process she experienced while working with the stone, and how it took her a long time to sculpt the piece to her satisfaction.
Hoping to see the number of outdoor artwork increase in coming years, Riester said she would also like to see additional members join and a boost in the number of art classes offered to children both after school hours and during the summer months.
“One of the things that really make me happy about this park is seeing the number of children that come,” she said. They are often confined to pavement playgrounds and they never get to run freely. I enjoy the big open spaces we have here at the park. Parents and children can run and play, or just sit and enjoy a picnic together.”
The Stone Quarry Hill Art Park is open 365 days a year from dawn until dusk at 3883 Stone Quarry Road. Suggested donation is $5 per visitor car. The office in the Hilltop House is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and reachable by phone at 655-3196 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dorothy Riester Retrospective runs from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, concluding May 27.