Beneath a robin’s-egg blue sky and among the lush gardens and fields of Hawk Ridge Farm, more than 200 guests gathered Wednesday evening to enjoy refreshments and view 110 pieces of sculpture created by more than 30 leading artists from across New England. After days of rain and cold, the pleasant weather provided the perfect atmosphere for the full-moon opening reception of independent curator June LaCombe’s aptly named summer show “Between Earth and Sky.”

When you mention sculpture in Maine, LaCombe’s name is bound to come up, and it’s clear why when you visit the fabulous property in Pownal where she maintains the June LaCombe Sculpture gallery and lives with her husband, Bill Ginn, who is the chief conservation officer of the Washington, D.C.-based Nature Conservancy. Every nook and cranny of the farm is enlivened by sculptural forms, both large and small, that play off and enhance the natural environment.

“It’s just gorgeous,” sculptor Antje Roitzsch told me. “Every piece is set perfectly. June knows what she’s doing. Even though there are so many sculptures, each has its own setting and gets to take center stage.”

The June LaCombe Sculpture gallery — billed as a gallery without walls — is not a place you just happen upon in your travels. It’s surrounded by forest and situated at the very end of a long gravel road, located near the entrance to Bradbury Mountain State Park.

Fred and Penny Conti of Freeport first attended one of LaCombe’s openings last fall.

“We loved it, and we’ll never miss another one,” Penny told me.

“This place is so beautiful,” Fred added. “It’s at the end of the world.”

Last year, the Contis purchased a piece of sculpture at the show, and this year they did the same.

“It’s pretty amazing that it’s hidden in the woods,” agreed sculptor Jordan Smith. “I sell more work here in the middle of the woods than at all the other galleries I’m represented at, combined.”

Even though it’s been a tough few years for art galleries and artists as the economy has slowed, a remarkable six pieces of sculpture sold during the opening party.

When I chatted with Susan Carter of Brunswick, who along with her husband has purchased works from LaCombe in the past, she told me “we didn’t buy sculptures for a specific area. We feel in love with the sculpture.” And then they had to figure out where to put it.

“When June brings the piece, she’ll look at where we have in mind and make suggestions,” Carter said.

The price of the sculptures (which in the current show start at $90 and top out at $54,000, with most in the $2,000 to $6,000 range) includes LaCombe’s consultation in siting the work. She also coordinates the logistics of transporting the work and helps to install it.

“This is the largest show that I’ve had,” LaCombe told me as we stood inside the traditional gallery space adjacent to her home, where smaller works and wooden sculptures are on view. “What I try to do is select a variety of styles and materials but with consistent high quality. Everything I bring here highlights nature.”

Such selection criteria not only appeal to Maine collectors, they also work to the advantage of sculptor Lise Becu.

“My pieces are made to be in a garden, where you are able to see the different seasons, the snow and the rain,” Becu told me.

Becu will be one of the artists-in-residence at this year’s Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium, where she’ll be carving a piece from local black granite that will be sited at a public space in Addison.

“June is such a wonderful person,” Becu said. “She’s so supportive of the artists. Her work is very much from the heart.”

LaCombe’s heartfelt commitment to both art and the environment is apparent to all who viewed the show Wednesday night.

“It’s such a treat to have all this sculpture and the beautiful farm,” Jean Beal of Portland told me.

“You don’t get any better than this,” said musician Rob Elliott of St. George, whose late father Jim Elliott headed the Portland School of Art (now the Maine College of Art).

“I wish my dad could see this.”

Alix Hopkins summed up the exhibition the best when she told me, “It’s a gift to everybody to have a show like this.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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