The herd of deer and other wildlife that you may have noticed on the grounds of the Portland jetport pose no hazard to aviation.
They may distract a few automobile drivers, though.
At 3 p.m. Friday, the city and the Portland International Jetport will dedicate a new piece of public art called “Glimpse.” The art – a half-dozen deer, a wolf and a porcupine – is the gift of Yarmouth residents William D. and Mary Louise N. Hamill and their family. In addition to donating the cost of the art by New Hampshire sculptor Wendy Klemperer, the Hamills also covered all expenses associated with its installation.
William Hamill declined to say what he paid for the artwork, which was vetted by the Portland Public Art Committee and accepted as a gift by the city.
“Flying isn’t as easy as it used to be,” said Hamill, a longtime trustee of the Portland Museum of Art and past board president. “I hope this has a little bit of influence on the good side. I hope it relaxes people a little bit, if that’s possible. It’s nice to have something interesting on the approach to the airport or when you are leaving the airport. It’s a different subject than what goes on at that facility.”
The installation and dedication coincide with the recent jetport terminal expansion.
The collection of sculptures is sited on the main airport approach road off Congress Street, known as International Parkway. It is a winding road, landscaped with trees and low bushes. The sculptures sit on grassy knolls on two spots along the parkway. They are tucked back, not out of view but in subtle locations that are designed to surprise travelers along the road.
“I believe that sculpture helps you more appreciate your environment and see things more closely,” said June LaCombe, a Pownal art dealer who represents Klemperer and brokered the gift from Hamill to the city. “Having this glimpse of sculpture, it activates our senses and makes us more aware of everything around us.”
Klemperer, who studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and was a guest instructor at Maine College of Art in Portland, is well known in Maine. She has shown at Maine Audubon in Falmouth, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay and currently is showing at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor.
She works with welded steel, assembling her pieces from salvaged industrial waste, including rebar, wire and steel rod. Her see-through figures are lifelike and large-scale.
The deer figures at the jetport strike various poses. One is grazing. Another is scratching itself. A third is trotting. The wolf is howling, its head tilted to the sky.
Airport director Paul Bradbury echoed Hamill’s sentiment that the installation might help soothe traveler anxieties. With its winding design and existing green space, International Parkway is meant to calm people as they enter the complex and slow them down.
“There is substantial landscaping along the road that speaks to Maine and the sense of place we want to establish for our visitors and users,” Bradbury wrote in a letter supporting the acceptance of the Hamill family gift. “These sculptures, in my opinion, will help enhance and reinforce both these themes at the jetport. I also believe art displayed within an airport complex is a wonderful means to cure the modern-day stresses of air travel.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: