The nonprofit entity restored and installed 50 feet of antique, wrought-iron fence, upon which it will rotate seasonally a variety of reproductions created by local artists.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 21, 2023
A new installation from the Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust (HOST) will create a permanent home for local artwork to be displayed on Mechanic Street in the borough downtown.
Entitled “Artwalk,” the project comprises 50 feet of antique, wrought-iron fencing anchored into the border of the public parking lot on the block.
A seven-panel display features high-quality, full-color, weatherproofed reproductions of works provided by Camden County artists, and curated by King’s Road Brewing cofounder Bob Hochgertel, in cooperation with the Markeim Arts Center.
HOST Chair Stuart Harting said plans for the project have taken about a year to realize.
“HOST paid for the iron, the fencing, installed it, and concepted the entire program,” Harting said.
“One of the board members found this old French iron fencing up in a barn in Central Jersey,” he said. “We bought it, and sent it to a fabricator in Reading, Pennsylvania. It took us two weeks to assemble and install it on Mechanic Street.”
The current display runs through October 2023, at which point its works will be replaced by art from students in the Haddonfield Memorial High School chapter of the National Arts Honor Society. Artwalk exhibits will rotate again in the spring of 2024 to feature works provided through the Mabel Kay Senior Center, Harting said.
“We’ll keep on a schedule of eight or ten weeks or so for each exhibit,” he said.
The revitalization of Mechanic Street was begun more than a decade ago, Harting said, thanks to a competitive beautification grant won from the Department of Transportation. In bygone days, that block once functioned as a transportation hub, housing stables, carriages, and a blacksmith.
Harting helped coordinate tilework that told the history of the block from Haddonfield students, and HOST installed its first sculpture, “Uno,” at the end of the tiny street, in 2013.
“Everything we’ve done since then on Mechanic is just a continuation of the art on Mechanic,” Harting said.
“It’s a very natural progression of what they’ve done around town, putting art in as many places as they can, so that in your trips up and down the street, you’re bound to come across something,” he said.
“As people move from business to business, they now have sculptures to see along the way, and with Artwalk, they have some art to see along the way.”
Hochgertel added that the practice of artists hanging their works on wrought-iron fences remains popular in cities like Paris and New Orleans.
“We’re trying to invoke a little of that spirit,” he said.
Harting said he’s lobbying the borough to close off a portion of Mechanic Street and its parking lot from Friday to Sunday to allow pedestrians to enjoy Art Walk without vehicle traffic.
Beyond the installation there, HOST also maintains individual statues throughout borough downtown business district, as well as a Sculpture Zoo.
“I think people are enjoying it, I think it’s putting Haddonfield on the map in terms of [being] an art capital in South Jersey,” Harting said.
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