WEST RUTLAND - The West Rutland Art Park, a private art park
open to the public, is currently hosting an International Sculpture
Symposium with artists working on-site from Bulgaria, China,
Turkey, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Germany and Romania. The symposium
runs from Aug. 23 to Sept. 22.
This is a rare opportunity to engage globally renowned artists
in dialogue and watch them work with local granite, marble and
The event is open to the public at no charge, as well as
interested school groups, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Monday through
Saturday. The West Rutland Art Park is located at 1450
Clarendon Avenue, West Rutland, Vt. For more info call
802-353-9650, or visit westrutlandartpark.com.
Photo by Yan Lu, West Rutland Art Park
Liliya Pobornikova, from Bulgaria, sculpts a large block of marble
at the West Rutland Art Park's International Sculpture
A Vermont treasure resurfaces
By Royal Barnard
Sculptfest is currently taking place at the newly initiated West
Rutland Art Park through September. The event is a reminder of the
vastly changed landscape in Vermont's mining, mineral and quarry
trade - in addition to a renowned display of artistic
There was a time was when local powerhouse industries like the
Vermont Marble Company supported thousands of jobs in Proctor and
West Rutland, and throughout the region; and at one time was
considered the largest existing American corporation. Today, it is
reduced to rather scattered scrap yards and a non-profit museum in
Proctor struggling to stay alive and continue its historic
The Carving Studio, also in West Rutland, resides in a former
Vermont Marble Company work building, the site of the once vibrant
marble complex and quarry. The Carving Studio is a non-profit
entity whose mission is to promote the artistic use of marble and
other native materials, through exhibitions and public classes.
Most of the Vermont marble once used for art and architecture is
now finding its way to Omya's giant grinding plant in Florence,
Vt., where the calcium carbonate they produce supplies makers of
paint, paper, plastic, pharmaceuticals and other products with
filler materials. Ground marble is also found in less likely places
like toothpaste and food products.
Slate and talc are our other official "state rocks" and there
continues to be significant commercial activity in mining them.
Cyprus Industrial Minerals runs about 10 talc mines in Vermont, and
there is still a viable slate trade in the area around Fair Haven
and Poultney. Granite is another important Vermont stone and the
world's largest producers, Rock of Ages, operates from the Barre,
One of the pioneer families in the Vermont quarry trade was the
Ruby family from Fair Haven, and they are still around, albeit not
nearly as busy as they once were. Their lessened activity is not
from lack of resources in the ground, or the desire to get them
out. The world's demand for their products, has decreased.
I spoke with Pete Ruby who labors in hopes of reviving the once
important family empire; or perhaps finding new partners who would
buy, lease or operate the family quarries. Pete Ruby has (among
other things) significant deposits of slate, marble, gravel, and
perhaps the world's largest deposit of serpentine (verde antique
marble.) Stone from his family quarries resides in public buildings
in Washinigton DC and other municipal centers.
Although there are plenty of uses for marble in construction,
acid rain has put a significant dent in the exterior use of the
stone. This is most noticeable in ancient Vermont graveyards, where
many marble headstones have dissolved to the point of the
inscriptions not being able to be read. For this reason, granite is
now the preferred material for monument use in our country.
In his typical generous fashion, Ruby supplied, at very low
cost, some of the stone now being sculpted at the West Rutland Art
Park Sculptfest. The organizers of the current Sculptfest, Peter
Lundberg and his wife Yan a native of China, have held similar art
events in China, they hope to assist the Ruby family in finding
access to that market for their marble. Pete Ruby is delighted to
have met up with them.
When there were once hundreds or maybe thousands of marble and
stone carvers in Vermont, there are now a fraction of that
number. Local sculptors, Brent Wilson and Don Ramey are
among the few remaining local stone carvers in our region.
Both have become well known for their production of art and of
From an industrial giant in the stone and mineral industry,
Vermont has drifted into a declining quarry trade, searching to
finding alternate uses for it's natural stone resources. Much of
what was once used to build majestic buildings, now rides in long
lines of rail cars heading out of state as dust or slurry.
Sculpfest returns our attention to the beauty of the stone in it's
natural state, formed into creative objects for pleasure and to
adorn our landscapes- and to remind us that our treasure beneath
the ground is ready to resurface at a grander scale when we're
ready to accept it.
For those interested in watching some of the world's best stone
and metal sculptors at work, The West Rutland Art Park will
continue to host their international art symposium until the end of
this month. The public is encouraged to stop by Monday-Saturday 10
a.m. to 6 p.m. No invitation is required. School groups are also
encouraged to visit. The Art Park is located at 1450 Clarendon
Avenue in West Rutland, Vt. For additional information contact Yan
Lu at 802-353-9650.