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Topiary Artist Pearl Fryar Raises Some Green at The Mount

Rural Intelligence Parties and OpeningsCultural correspondent Bess J.M. Hochstein reports from Lenox.

Among the many events included in the inaugural Lift Ev’ry Voice celebration of African-American arts and heritage, the appearance by topiary artist Pearl Fryar at The Mount must surely have been the most unexpected and highly anticipated. Fryar, a self-taught abstract sculptor whose medium is live plant material, creates forms beyond the bounds of traditional horticulture. In an event called Love, Peace, and Goodwill, Fryar talked about his art and presented two demonstrations of his work. When the early evening arrived, the artist joined a crowd on The Mount’s gracious terrace, sipping Prosecco and supping on canapés by Mezze, for a live auction, including two pairs of evergreens sculpted in his signature forms: circles and spirals. Pittsfield Cultural Development Director Megan Whilden (left, in photo above with Fryar) is now the proud owner of the spiral-cut pair. Ticket sales from the demonstrations benefit the Lift Ev’ry Voice festival, while proceeds from the auction will go toward the establishment of scholarships for Berkshire County youth. No doubt, Edith Wharton would have approved.

Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Lift Ev’ry Voice co-chairs Shirley Edgerton and Don Quinn Kelley flank Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount; guest auctioneer Philip Kampe with Mitchell Speight.

Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Sam VanSant and Gwendolyn VanSant, executive director of Multicultural BRIDGE; Joshua and Pepsi Lee of Springfield.

Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Williams College’s Director of Dance Sandra Burton and social media consultant Eugenie Sills; Wuane Johnstone and Megan Whilden.

Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
The Mount’s facilities director Ross Jolly and Joan Marie Jackson; tennis instructor Art Carrington with arts consultant Greer Smith of TRANSART.


Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Actor and playwright Nambi E. Kelley, who entertained the crowd with her a capella rendition of Lift Ev’ry Voice, with Marla Robertson; Orion magazine founder Marion Gilliam with garden maven Margot Paddock.

Rural Intelligence Parties and Openings
Pearl Fryar, center, surrounded by the winning bidders on his topiary sculptures, Megan Whilden and Don Quinn Kelley & Sandra Burton, plus festival co-chair Shirley Edgerton, in green.

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Posted by Bess Hochstein on 07/18/11 at 12:51 PM • Permalink