Strathmore Mansion Sculpture Garden
To me, the advantage of viewing sculptures outdoors is the ability to walk around them, to see them from all sides and in different light depending on the time of day or against different backgrounds depending on the season of year and weather conditions. All of these conditions add a dimension to sculptures that is not present when displayed in most indoor spaces.
The outdoor Sculpture Garden on the grounds of the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda, MD provides an ideal venue to examine larger than life sized pieces situated in a variety of settings winding through the Mansion’s 11 acres of landscaped grounds. Each piece is unique and varied and created using a variety of materials including polymer cement, steel, wood and bronze. Most of the artists have a local connection to the Greater Washington, DC area either as a student or faculty member at a local university or pursuing their craft in a local studio.
Some of the pieces were commissioned by Strathmore such as Stefan Saal’s colorful “Little Temple” wood statute on the lawn directly in front of the Mansion. Saal, born in West Germany but raised in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase suburbs, uses natural materials in his sculptures.
Marcia Billing's "The Granddaughters", the bronze dancing sculpture of three young girls stands at the right portico of the Mansion and was donated in 1996 by Katherine, Sara and Jessica Culp in honor of Theodore F. Culp. Billig earned her Masters in Fine Art from American University. Another of her sculptures, "The Commuter", stands outside the Wheaton Metro Station near Washington, DC.
Adding a splash of color to the cool shadows is David Stromeyer's "Up the Ramp", a bright yellow steel abstract that instantly caught my eye. Its smooth, playful curves presented a totally different impression as I moved around the piece.
Several large pieces stand on the shady east lawn near busy Rockville Pike including the bright white concrete “Marilyn with Sarah Ann” by Carol Gellner Levin shows a full figured woman playfully watching her baby spread its arms as if to take off in flight. Levin, a clinical social worker, turned sculptor, has maintained a studio in Alexandria, VA’s Torpedo Factory Art Center for more than 20 years.
Tucked in the corner near the Mansion steps along the path leading to the rear of the mansion is Barton Rubenstein’s "Tower”, a stainless steel water feature providing gentle soothing sounds in contrast to the constant den of automobile engines on the nearby commuter thoroughfare. Rubenstein works at his studio in Chevy Chase, MD.
Pieces of “Familia”, another Rubenstein stainless steel sculpture, share a sunny spot with two polymer cement pieces, “Gymnast II” by Amalia Slater and “A Round of Pleasure” by Eileen Fink. The sun reflects off the shiny pieces of “Familia” as they sway in the light breeze on this partly cloudy day. Slater, born in Petach-Tikva, Israel, received her Masters of Art in Art Therapy from George Washington University and teaches courses in stone carving in her studio in Potomac, MD.
As I continued along the path I almost missed Gregory Stein’s “Seeding’, a weathered steel sculpture nestled in a shady spot among the hydrangeas and hostas. “It’s for the Birds” by various artists is a playful display that almost gets lost among the branches of the tall pine trees.
The sculpture garden contains approximately 23 varied and unique pieces. One of my favorites is
Wendy M. Ross’ “Reverence” a cast epoxy unisex piece that appears at once to be pushing up from the ground and reaching for the sky. Ross’ sculptures range from small scale to monumental and are designed for placement in both indoor and outdoor settings. She maintains a sculpture studio in Bethesda, MD.
“Trumpeters”, a contemporary bronze figure by William Duffy holds its place in front of the Mansion. Duffy, a 1983 University of Maryland Master of Fine Arts graduate, creates durable works in bronze, stainless steel and granite that celebrate humanity through the human form are designed to withstand the sometimes harsh outdoor conditions. He currently maintains a studio in Baltimore, MD.
Standing next to a tall shady tree on the manicured rolling lawn in front of the Mansion is the . The classically-styled six-column, copper-roofed structure, a piece of sculpture in its own right, can hold up to 30 musicians for outdoor concerts.
If you enjoy art alfresco, you’ll love the Strathmore Sculpture Garden. The grounds of the garden are open during daylight hours. Parking is on the east side of the Mansion. There is no charge to visit the sculpture garden.
The Mansion at Strathmore has an interesting and disparate history. Built in 1899, the nine bedroom Colonial Revival style Mansion has been used as a summer home, a convent and school, and the headquarters of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Montgomery County acquired the property from ASHA in 1979 and renamed it Strathmore Hall. After extensive restoration, the Strathmore Mansion was opened to the public in 1983. Together with the Music Center at Strathmore, the Mansion provides affordable, accessible, multi-disciplinary arts programming for visitors in the Greater Washington, DC area.
If you go
The Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike (Route 355)
North Bethesda, MD 20852