Wild Center displaying Bellinger’s sculptures

TUPPER LAKE — Over a dozen sculptures by Adirondack-based artist Barney Bellinger are now on display around The Wild Center’s Tupper Lake campus, in partnership with Tupper Arts. Bellinger’s first exhibition of large-scale steel sculptures,Welded Steel: Shape, Form and Light, represents his evolution as an artist and his diverse experiences in nature. Portraying natural flora and fauna, the large works of art — 17 in total — have been strategically placed around the campus to incorporate the surrounding environment. The exhibition will be on display through next year and is included in regular admission. 

Inspired by the Adirondacks, Welded Steel: Shape, Form and Light gives new life to discarded materials found in scrap yards that have been salvaged, reclaimed, shaped and formed. The metallic sculptures made from raw steel create a unique juxtaposition among the natural elements of The Wild Center’s Greenleaf Pond and Forest Music trail. Digital maps detailing the location of each sculpture are available through The Wild Center mobile app. Visitors are encouraged to stop at each piece to admire the story it tells and the way it interacts with its surroundings.

The exhibit is accompanied by a newly commissioned five-piece instrumental composition created by musician and educator Eric Sturr, who publishes music under the moniker Whatever Penny. The album, entitled “Iron Harvest,” draws direct inspiration from Bellinger’s work. The piece, installed in The Wild Center’s Forest Music immersive sound trail, mixes metallic sounds and instruments with natural sounding harmonies of marimba and violins.  

Welded Steel: Shape, Form & Light conveys stories of Bellinger’s time in nature, fishing and camping, as well as stories of the materials. Like everything in nature, the steel with which he works has its own lifecycle: it is first mined from the earth, formed into useful materials and now returns to the earth as sculpture.

“These discarded materials can be salvaged, cleaned, oiled and then become part of a collection that adds a new dimension onto our natural world without overtaking it,” explained Bellinger, speaking to his artist process of transforming old machinery, automotives and architectural steel into artful shapes and forms. 

Bellinger’s work has evolved over the years. A self-taught artist entering his 51st year creating art, he has explored a variety of artforms: customizing motorcycles, hand carving and painting signs, making rustic furniture, photography and oil painting, and now sculptural metal work. He has exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, the Doyle Gallery in NYC, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Adirondack Experience, among others. Currently, he is artist-in-residence at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, creating accessible artistic experiences through classes that include people of all abilities and artistic skills. 

More of Bellinger’s work, including rustic furniture, paintings, and lighting fixtures, is on exhibit from July 1 through September 15, 2021 at the Tupper Arts Center located at 106 Park Street in Tupper Lake.

The Wild Center is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. A phased reopening of its indoor amenities begins July 1. For more information on guidelines and reservation information, visit The Wild Center’s Visit page: www.wildcenter.org/visit/.

By Paul Wager