The Recorder – Reaching For Heaven: Harold Grinspoon Lends Outdoors Artwork To Look Park


For decades Harold Grinspoon developed a thriving real estate business – large enough that in the early 1990s he established a philanthropic organization, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, to improve Jewish and community life in western Massachusetts and beyond. far.

But about six years ago, Grinspoon, who is now 90, turned to something else: woodcarving.

The fruits of some of this work can now be found in Look Park, to which Grinspoon has loaned four large wooden sculptures. “The Beauty of Nature”, “Windows”, “Chroma Quartet” and more recently “Entwined” have been installed on large bases and will be on display at the park for the next two years.

Jilian Larkin, General Manager of Look Park, said she and other staff were delighted to have the art on hand, seeing it as a natural addition to trees and fields; all parts are constructed from trees and branches found and salvaged. The artwork also appears to be a testament to Grinspoon’s appreciation for Look Park itself, a place he has visited frequently over the years, she says.

“He has a real affinity for the park, and we are so happy that he is sharing his works with us,” said Larkin. “It’s a very generous gesture, and it gives us something new to offer visitors.”

On Wednesday, Grinspoon and members of his design team came to the park, near the tennis courts, to install “Entwined,” two twisted sections of an oak branch that, cut in half, were painted in shades of yellow, blue and purple and wrap around each other when they point to the sky.

Grinspoon, who was born in Newton in 1929 and lives in Longmeadow, is a longtime advocate of the outdoors – he is still a regular hiker – and the arts. Madeline Calabrese, director of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, describes him as a “visionary” who “always looks to the future” and designs his next project. For years, Calabrese notes, Grinspoon collected interesting pieces of wood on his walks, imagining that some of them could be used for works of art; sometimes he asked woodworkers to transform the pieces into sculptures.

From 2014, Calabrese notes, Grinspoon embarked on this work himself when a much-loved cherry tree in his garden fell. He decided to have the tree cut into four longitudinal strips, then, together with other designers and a team he gathered, he created his first work, “The Beauty of Nature” – four strips of smooth wood about 9 meters high that stand separately but curved towards each other.

Juliane Hain, who takes care of Grinspoon’s art projects, says he has no formal art training, but has learned a lot by observing other artists at work and sharing ideas with a small team that s ‘takes care of the cutting and processing of wood. Grinspoon designed a number of miniature sculptures to serve as models for “The Beauty of Nature,” Hain noted.

Calabrese says she will sometimes make initial sketches of Grinspoon’s verbal description of a new sculpture, or that he will sketch what he wants to see. “He’s very collaborative in his process, although he can be decisive and say ‘no’,” she said.

He has also become increasingly prolific in recent years and at this point has created around 100 sculptures, Calabrese said, while evolving into designs that incorporate steel and glass and various finishes. Her work has been exhibited in many settings, including The Mount in Lenox (the home of Edith Wharton) and the 2018 “Crosstown” exhibition in Amherst, an outdoor installation that featured works by multiple artists.

All this while he takes care of the work of his foundation, which since its founding in 1991 has donated over $ 230 million to programs supporting Jewish life, education, entrepreneurship. , libraries, etc., according to the group’s website. Grinspoon also designs smaller sculptures that can be placed inside, Calabrese noted.

“He’s not showing any sign of slowing down – just tremendous energy,” she said.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at [email protected]

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