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Hanging Rocks at Connemara  

  Connemara sign

I visit Connemara every two or three years. What was once a family farm is now an official sculpture park -- what used to be out in the boones well north of Dallas, is now surrounded by the slick sameness of housing and commercial developments. If Sherry Owens hadn't E-mailed to invite me to come out and help wrap rocks for the project, I might have missed this year's open-air exhibition entirely.

running dog

The private sculpture park's neighbors seem to mostly think of it as a good place to run their dogs. There were at least a half dozen running around, splashing through the recent-rain-created marshes, dashing around the sculptures and barking up the place during my brief visit.


circle of stones

But it's also a really nice and remarkably natural place to put art. The stones in the circle above look like art, but actually they are only rocks that have been carefully wrapped with baling wire, still waiting for their ascension into art.

stone wrapping tools

These are some of the tools used to wrap and hang the rocks. While i was there, Sherry Owens carefully instructed me in the fine craft of wrapping rocks. While I watched and photographed, and we talked, she wrapped many, and I wrapped one.

Sherry wrapping stones

After weaving each Colorado River Rock into a safe, secure package, each bound by two lengths of baling wire, Sherry taps each wire into the exact shape of each rock.


Art on a ladder

Laddering up to nearly every tree in Connemara's well-known and oft-appreciated Pecan Grove, Art Shirer, ably assisted by Liz, did the actual hanging. Each rock hovers in the wind exactly twelve feet off the ground.

  tallying hung stones

Each time a new rock is hung, Liz requests the proper length of wire to hang the next one, and Sherry tallies the score. Collaborating sculptors Art and Sherry hoped to hang more than a hundred rocks each day, and though their rate is accelerating, they're not uploading stones as quickly as they'd hoped.

three rocks floating

Here, three rocks hang from two trees. This gives only the vaguest notion of what it will be like to walk through the Pecan Grove when the project is finished. Only a hundred and fifty rocks were scattered overhead during my visit -- less than two days' work. Art and Sherry will be working into the darkness every day this week, and they hope to have at least a thousand rocks up by the official opening.

A lot of three-dimensional work has graced that grove over the years, but usually it's just been a handy place to park three-dimensional art. This new work may well be the best use of the grove ever.

I'm really looking forward to walking through the completed, stone grove. It'll be warmer then and the trees will be budding bits of green all over, alive with spring. I want it to feel oddly surreal, kinetic and a little bit frightening.


Thanks to careful wrapping, we'll be safe enough, but it's still a disquieting sensation to look up into the trees and sky and see rocks suspended, twirling and wafting in the breeze. A thousand river-smoothed rocks floating should transform Connemara's usually sedate Pecan Grove into a strangely uneasy place more than subtly alive with sculpture.



Connemara's 2000 exhibition continued though each Mother's Day.
The art has all been taken down now. Come back again next spring.

© 2000 by JR Compton
All Rights Reserved.
No Reproduction in Any Medium
without Written Permission.

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