The Waveny Park Conservancy held a reception on Saturday in the beautifully restored parterre garden to celebrate its donors and community partners, who have contributed to the completed trails and parterre garden and two major projects in progress, namely the pond restoration and the Meadow. The Conservancy recently cleared the area of overgrowth on the east side of the house leading down to the pond in preparation for the imminent dredging of the pond. Thanks to a generous donation from the Harlan and Lois Anderson Family Foundation, it will now be called the Anderson Pond. The Meadow, which was originally a cornfield 100 years ago, has been cleared of invasive phragmites and is now in Phase 2 with the generous support of long-time New Canaan resident Carole Clarkson and her family’s foundation, the Jeniam Foundation. Golf carts were on hand to take guests down to view the pond, meadow, and new trail behind the meadow.
In the clearing near the Walled Garden, the first site-specific commission of an outdoor sculpture at Waveny was unveiled. The Nest by Luigi Antonioli is a 7-foot bird’s nest made of found mountain laurel branches, representing the CT state flower. The massive “eggs” within were carved from a recently cut white pine tree, the trunk of which the artist found in an area dump. Antonioli prefers using found wood that holds a memory or a story and creating pieces that allude to the provenance of the material. The Nest reflects the concept of home, beginnings, and innocence and is appropriate in Waveny, which is host to many ground-nesting birds. The sculpture complements Olmsted’s pastoral style and taps into the organic beauty of discarded wood, giving it an afterlife. A mechanic, mountain guide, mountain rescuer and helicopter-rescue technician in Italy, Antonioli came to the US in 1995. In 2008, when he moved to New Canaan and built a workshop down the road from Waveny, he reinvented himself as an artist. Staying true to his roots, he aspires to represent the connection of human emotion and experience with place and natural artifact. For Antonioli “it is a privilege to be a part of creating a unique experience for summer visitors to this beloved park.”
This public art initiative was the result of the collaboration between Antonioli, John Howe, the Director of Parks in New Canaan, and Arianne Kolb, a curator and Conservancy board member who commissioned the sculpture. “This commission was meant to activate the open space and makes visitors look and think about the design of the landscape in meaningful ways.” (Kolb) Howe also recently restored the functionality of the fountain on the Peony Walk, just below the Parterre Garden. The fountain, the only permanent sculpture in the park, depicts a young child surrounded by frogs below, all spouting water. It was commissioned in 1914 from the female sculptor Abastenia St. Leger Eberle by Waveny owner, Antoinette Lapham. Now, more than a century later, looking beyond the fountain towards the pond, one has a new perspective with The Nest. The sculpture remains up throughout the summer of 2019.