“Arboreal Attire” and “Chairful Where You Sit” Extend History around Jason Russell House in Arlington

Sculpture by Leslie Wilcox, Poetry by Jessie Brown, Chairs Transformed by Many Artists

This post honors an inspiring event last Saturday ( 8/21/21) that reminded me, yet again, of how much public art keeps offering no matter how many challenges mount up. Walking among at least thirty chairs and six tall trees with unique creative identities, I began to understand they all shared histories extended by artists’ careful appreciative attention. Also most chairs there were made with wood, so crafted originally from trees. Musical performances, poetry reading, artist talk, and many other happenings were free for anyone who visited the lawn of the historic Jason Russell House near Arlington Center.

That led me to this quick post ( with links, quotes, and key resources in red type) because the chairs are only up for bidding until September 5: Chairful Where You Sit features artistically re-imagined chairs by local artists who have donated their time and talent. For the past 7 years, Chairful has rescued over 400 chairs from basements, attics, and the curb, turning them into fabulously creative and unique works of art that brighten lives and enhance homes. When you bid on a chair, you are showing your support for quality public art programming in Arlington.” ( quote from Bidding Owl ,Arts Arlington, where you can see all chairs with descriptions)

The Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture and the Arlington Historical Society have collaborated to bring contemporary art by the accomplished Boston sculptor Leslie Wilcox to the grounds of the historic Jason Russell House. Wilcox has selected six of her distinctive steel mesh sculptural “garments” – developed over the last 20 years – to create an evocative installation for the Jason Russell House entitled Arboreal Attire.” (quote from Leslie Wilcox: Arboreal Attire, Arts Arlington )

“I walk through nearly every day, and was thrilled to come across Leslie Wilcox’s sculptures. Different figures went up over several weeks, as if the grounds were being repopulated, slowly, from different eras.  Her installation sneaks up on you: is that a tree? a coat? a person? Do they know each other? Where are they going? The process fascinated me. It made me imagine all those who’ve been here before us; I couldn’t stop thinking about them. The poem, “Make Yourself at Home,” grew out of that excitement. ” (quote from Jessie Brown about seeing the art in progress during walks on the grounds of the Jason Russell House)

Doris Birmingham, a member of the Arlington Historical Society, explains how this exhibition helps the Society fulfill one of its goals: bringing history to life for the community and out-of-town visitors alike. “The casual sidewalk stroller may be a little taken aback at seeing the trunks of several grand old maples on the grounds encased in larger than life-size wire mesh costumes, for example, an evening gown, an overcoat and top hat; even a Japanese kimono,…”  (quote excerpt from ‘Bringing History to Life’ on Leslie Wilcox: Arboreal Attire, Arts Arlington )

Description of Kimonos 1 (stainless steel screen, lacquer paint, 2013) “Originally an ancient ceremonial robe embellished with the family crest, the T-shaped silken garment celebrates the needle arts tradition and transcends borders, traveling from Asia to Western Europe and on to the American colonies by the eighteenth century.”(from listing about each sculpture in Leslie Wilcox: Arboreal Attire )

Recommended: Link to MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME poem by Jessie Brown to read before or after viewing Arboreal Attire by Leslie Wilcox, also in archived post A Poet and a Sculptor Meet at Jason Russell House

One comment

  1. Marjory Wunsch · · Reply

    Loved the clothed trees. The chair project reminded me of an art outreach by Woods Hole Library several years ago.


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