Crooked Brook Studios

by | Lay of the Land

Amy and I walked around the Crooked Brook Studios Art Farm and enjoyed the works of art as well as the work of nature.

It’s easy to take in the astounding natural beauty of the area when you drive around the Adirondacks, but even from the car window, there’s evident beauty in the work of the people who live here, too. And not just in the artwork, or the creative approach to work—like the inventive ways people stack their firewood—but I delight in the work work, watching the Tyvek turn to siding, seeing F250s haul away a fallen-down barn. The natural beauty and the beauty of work come to be the main things I look for when I go on my joy rides.

But now I’m thinking about the works of art that are so available and so affective in our new neighborhood.

One day, after picking the girls up from Lakeside School, I decided, as I do, to putter home, to see what happens if I turn right instead of left, go up that road less maintained in the winter. It was a great waste of time. I came to county highways I’d never heard of, and some intersections that I’d traveled but couldn’t place. I got turned around pretty good—but by the time we got home, I had actually discovered a route that shaves two or three minutes off the commute to the girls’ school. That’s a big deal when you’re rushing to find the other mitten.

This new route passes several large solar arrays, an idyllic small cattle farm, the twisting Boquet River. There was also something I didn’t notice until I drove past it several times: a little ways off the road there’s a sign that said “Crooked Brook Studios ART FARM, Open.” Seeing that gave context to the massive hunk of twisted metal that I thought was the hull of a crashed boat.

The thing I thought was a boat is off to the right.

Yesterday, Amy and I decided to explore the Art Farm. We learned that it is the property and project of an active, longtime community member Edward Cornell. He has a good website here.

“Welcome to the Art Farm. Feel free to walk about and enjoy the objects.”

It is a very welcoming place. As you enter you come upon a large barn and behind that, a shed with this placard on it. And next to that hangs a piece called “Welcome.”

WELCOME / Front side of a horse-drawn wagon / 2013

Look how beautiful the shed is:

Here are some other images from our walk.

THE PHOENIX OF WADHAMS / rotating installation of a minimally processed found object / 2002

This small dome reminds me of the work of land artist Andy Goldsworthy. I loved walking around it:

TWO-TONE STONE CONE / rocks and gravel / a work in progress
IT SO HAPPENS / meditation on the uncertainty principal / 2004
with Amy
THE ANGEL OF INERRANCY / conveying well-meaning souls to hell / large iron pipe, tedder, wheelbarrow, milk can, black rubber hose, red silo pipes, crystal pitcher, etc, / 2005
POND / United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Restoration Project / 1995

As you approach the pond, which has been labeled with a placard like all the other art on the farm, you come to a sign that says beavers have been active in the area so the water level is higher than usual, and the ground will be very wet for the next 100 feet. I finally got to use my new boot dryer yesterday.

FLOATING STONE CONE / very light rocks / 2005

How wonderful is this thing—an island of rocks that floats around the pond. It was made by Schelling McKinley. He’s building our neighbor’s house.

Here’s me, looking into a shed. Inside the shed is a small painting on an easel (if there’s a placard for this, I missed it):

You can (and should) see Edward Cornell’s paintings at his website. I love this one, “Meeting in Manhattan.”

MEMORIAL COLUMN / rolled iron culvert / 2013
with Amy

This is a glorious piece. Amy wanted to sit by it and meditate for a while before leaving. This place is only a couple miles from our house, so she was able to carry the spirit of inspiration home.

The Art Farm is also one of the many Champlain Area Trails (CATS) in the area, so we walked for a while into the woods. There’s a great moment when the grassy trail through the meadow enters the woods:

Here’s the view facing the other way:

We pledged to visit every season.