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Artist’s Reception Celebrated For ‘Photographs From The Fruit Trail’

Published: January 11, 2017

“Photographs From The Fruit Trail,” the latest exhibition hosted by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, was celebrated with an artist’s reception on December 29.

The public was invited to join George Duncan, who created a series of photographs during the creation of the fruit trail at Fairfield Hills this past summer, for the special event at Newtown Municipal Center.

The project was done thanks in part to an artist’s grant Mr Duncan received last year from Newtown Cultural Arts Commission.

The Newtown Fruit Trail was conceptualized by Newtown native Andrew Mangold, who proposed as an “edible fruit trail” along the walking path that winds through Fairfield Hills when he first presented his idea to the Fairfield Hills Authority in February.

Among other parts of his plan, Mr Mangold said that the trail is one way to transform the town-owned land into “a living, breathing campus.”

He subsequently offered presentations to the Board of Selectmen and the Parks & Recreation Commission.

Plantings on two initial sections began in June, with volunteers clearing land, weeding, and mulching in addition to planting berries, fruiting shrubs, ground cover, and wildflowers. The plants were all selected to thrive in Connecticut’s climate, Mr Mangold told The Newtown Bee in May.

Mr Mangold and a team of volunteers spent the weekend of June 11-12 putting the first series of plants into the ground. Mr Duncan joined them, cameras in hand.

The initial trail covers a segment of paved walking trail from the west side of the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps driveway off Wasserman Way and extending to just north of The Victory Garden.

By autumn, plants were beginning to take root and flower. Black-eyed Susans, purple Lupine, Aster, and herbs were all gaining traction. Bees were seen, crickets were heard, and plenty of people were drawn to the trail.

On December 29 a few dozen people braved the cold damp air left after a day of alternating snow and rain, heading to Newtown Municipal Center to visit with Mr Duncan during the final hours of his exhibition’s presentation. He greeted most of the guests as they arrived, the majority of them by name and with hugs and smiles.

While some attendees walked slowly along the main corridor of the municipal center, taking in the framed photographs that had been selected for display, others stood in front of a flat-screen monitor that offered dozens of additional images that were also created during the installation of the garden. Mr Duncan had put together a presentation of 130 additional images for the reception.

“It was very difficult to decide what to include in the video presentation,” he said, his eyes smiling from behind the large black-framed glasses he wears. “There were literally over 1,000 images to choose from.

“I had a very hard time putting the collection together,” he added. “I finally decided to group them.”

Guests were given groups of portraits, volunteers working, tools, closeups of hands, and even arrangements of tools. The photos of tools — most caked in mud, following rain showers during the installation weekend — he called “graphic abstracts.”

All of the photos, whether printed and hung on the municipal center’s walls or scrolling on the computer screen, offered a fine art photographer’s look at a project its creator hopes will bring generations of fresh fruit and continued growth to a small part of the earth in Newtown. Mr Duncan’s photographic eye captured hours of tough physical labor, creating both a permanent record of those two days and an artistic look at a holistic project.

“I wanted people to see a fine art view of this project,” Mr Duncan said December 29.

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