Holding Onto Summer

The days are getting shorter here in New England.  Soon, it will be too dark for me to run outdoors after work.  (I love my neighborhood and the paths I run, but they’re kinda creepy after the sun goes down!)  One day, earlier this week, I woke up to a crispness in the air I hadn’t felt for a while.  My friend Tina wrote in an email, “I want to grab summer and hug it.”  If anyone could convince summer to stay, it would be my Tina.

So, what to do as I’m contemplating the end of my second favorite season in New England?  Well, first, I can stop being so melodramatic and look forward to my FIRST favorite season in New England.  Fall.  Seriously, I think fall is what’s kept a California girl happily living on this coast for all these years.

Secondly, it’s high time I blogged about my trip to the Art Encampment at Bumpkin Island!

Not too long ago, some friends and I filled our backpacks with sunscreen and water, packed our lunches, and boarded a ferry to Bumpkin Island.

Psst...Bruce.  The camera's over here!

Psst...Bruce. The camera's over here!

Ahhh...that's better!

Ahhh...that's better!

The ferry to Bumpkin leaves from one of my favorite places in the Boston area, Georges Island.  If you’ve never been…go. Georges Island is home to Fort Warren, a Civil War era fort that’s a blast to explore.  But…there’s no time for exploring today.  We’ve got a ferry to find!

Um..that would be Lovells, Peddocks, Grape, and Bumpkin!

Um..that would be Lovells, Peddocks, Grape, and Bumpkin!

Once aboard the correct ferry, it’s time for a group photo.  Or photos…

Hmm...someone's hiding.

Hmm...someone's hiding.

So, the first thing you should know about me…I love my big, floppy hat on super sunny days!

And pigtails.  I also like pigtrails.

And pigtails. I also like pigtrails.

The second thing you should know is…even though my camera died the second we docked at Bumpkin Island, I still managed to take a bizillion photos on my iPhone. I love my iPhone.

See...look at that beautiful iPhone photo!

See...look at that beautiful iPhone photo!

So, I guess I should explain this Art Encampment thing, eh? Hmm…well, to explain is too much. Let me sum up.

Every year, five artist “collectives” descend on Bumpkin Island. The place isn’t all that big, so they pretty much take it over. They’re charged with installing and/or performing a work of art that relates to the island environment and interacts with the people who come to visit.

So, this is where you get my first theory about art. (DISCLAIMER: I know absolutely nothing about art. I am not trained. I am not skilled. I couldn’t make a piece of art if my life depended on it.)

My absolute out-of-nowhere theory goes like this: if you start with a bunch of rules about what a piece of art is supposed to accomplish (like relating to the island environment and interacting with the visitors) you are left with weird art.

Projects seem to be chosen based on how well they fit the criteria above, and not on how they make you feel or how much they make you think.

Okay, soapbox speech over. Let me give you an example:

Look!  It's a Pop Up City!

Look! It's a Pop Up City!

Our first stop on the Bumpkin Island tour was the Pop Up Collective. Here, two women occasionally ran up and down the lawn with a large fabric sail, while visitors were encouraged to build new funky structures out white corrugated plastic.

This lovely lady explained it all to us, as her friend was being tied to a tree with surveyor's tape.

This lovely lady explained it all to us, as her friend was being tied to a tree with surveyor's tape.

Eventually, the woman who was tied to the tree (representing the spirit of the island…or gaia…or something) performed a dance as she tried to break free. It was beautiful. And fascinating. And weird.

See what I mean? Weird art.  Not bad.  Just weird.

We had a lovely lunch at Pop Up City and then moved on through the woods.  Before long we came across some ruins peppered with a collection of solar fueled doo-dads.  I have no idea what they were all about, but they were pretty cool.

The solar powered music box played "You are my Sunshine."  Get it?  Sunshine?

The solar powered music box played "You are my Sunshine." Get it? Sunshine?

In a nice shady spot, someone had collected trash and other items from around the island and placed them in individual clear, plastic envelopes.

Axiom had multiple installations, all exploring the theme of restraint.

Axiom had multiple installations, all exploring the theme of restraint.

Another group was weaving “Memory Vessels” and filling them with treasures.

Some day I might like to learn to weave a basket!

Some day I might like to learn to weave a basket!

My favorite installation on the island was called Packrat. Basically, some very determined people cataloged every type of thing on the island, connecting the place where each item was found back to the “nest” using unpolished cotton string. You still might not attract me with the meaning behind it all, but the effect was magical.

Oooh...spooky.

Oooh...spooky.

Over the years, Bumpkin Island has been home to tenant farmers in the Colonial period, a home for children with disabilities around 1900, a Naval training camp during WWII, and as a hospital for polio patients. There are some pretty cool ruins lying around!

We found flags and string lines all over this section of the island.

We found flags and string lines all over this section of the island.

By this time, we had worked up a sweat. I didn’t bring a suit to go swimming, but that didn’t stop me from finding a nice, cool spot to put my feet in the water.

And, while cooling my feet, I snapped a photo.  I'm sneaky that way...

And, while cooling my feet, I snapped a photo. I'm sneaky that way...

While we waited for the ferry home, there was one last installation to check out. And we were not disappointed. It was by a group called Traubensaft, which Andrea tells us is German for Orange Juice.

See. Weird art.

Anyway, I’m not sold on the name, but the idea sucked me in.

Maps!

Maps!

Traubensaft encouraged visitors to make maps. Maps of scary things on the island. Maps of rocks that looked like islands on the island. Maps of bugs that had been sitting on a piece of paper but had now gone to find another place to sit on the island.

The maps were funky. And cool. Were they art? Who knows? And who cares?

Fun, fun, fun!

Fun, fun, fun!

In all, it was a great day of friends and fun. Not to mention, I managed to soak up a little bit of sunshine that will recharge my internal battery and help me get through the long winter that will eventually arrive.

Not yet, though. We still have many fantastic fall adventures ahead!

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One Comment to “Holding Onto Summer”

  1. Enjoyable post, Karen. Thanks for sharing.
    p.s. love the floppy hat!

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