“His sculptures can be `read’ two different ways,” said artist, art teacher and Winter Harbor Sculpture Site Selection Committee member Mary Lou Weaver, of the stylized granite boat cleat by Round Pond sculptor Don Justin Meserve. She said the cleat also represents a safe harbor.

The Cleat is one of seven massive sculptures made at the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium [SISS], which took place between July 25 and Sept. 10 at the former Winter Harbor naval base of the Schoodic Section of Acadia National Park.

The symposium started in an abandoned Austrian quarry in 1959. Since then it has been held elsewhere in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Maine was chosen because of its abundance of granite. From this year’s 140 applicants, seven sculptors were chosen: three from Maine and one each from Germany, Japan, Poland, and Sweden. Residents of six towns — Ellsworth, Milbridge, Southwest Harbor, Steuben, Sullivan and Winter Harbor raised $5,000 (not town money) — to cover transportation, room, board, and a stipend for the artist who made the sculpture for each town. The seventh sculpture was to be placed in the Schoodic Section of Acadia National Park. Each town also raised an additional installation fee of $1,500.

“It’s a real grassroots effort: people and businesses and towns cooperating to see it happen,” Weaver said. Town selectmen chose people to serve on a committee to choose a sculptor and to select a site to place the sculpture. In addition to Weaver, Winter Harbor selectmen chose artists Gail Gilchrist and Louise Shaw to represent their town. Weaver said of her committee’s choice, “They were an impressive group of artists, but when we saw Don Meserve’s work, spontaneously, we all saw that he was the one. I could see the consistent quality of his work.”

There had been a problem with the time involved to get a permit for the installation of Meserve’s highly polished Cleat, which is set in “quarry-faced” (rough, unpolished) granite. The Department of Environmental Protection had raised concerns, and Weaver and the others planned to get around them by having the sculpture set as a mooring. Weaver then learned of a shorter process called Permit by Rule. When that application goes through, “Cleat,” engraved with the compass coordinates for Winter Harbor, will be pinned to a ledge in Henry Cove where it will be clearly visible to everyone coming into Winter Harbor by land or by sea. It also marks the location of the new Town boat launch.

Weaver said that a non-profit group, The Women’s Health Resource Library, was underwriting a sculpture for Milbridge and had requested a female sculptor. They chose Dominika Griesgraber, a Polish Ph.D. candidate at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts. Griesgraber has won many awards for her work, which has been installed all over the world. Her monumental sculpture is called “Transitory.”

Steuben chose local sculptor Jesse Salisbury. His work, “Glimpse of the Moon,” will be installed in front of the Henry D. Moore Parish House, which houses a library and meeting space.

According to Gerry Williams of Lamoine, who started as a fundraiser for the symposium and ended up doing publicity, Sullivan chose German sculptor Jo Kley, who won second prize for his work at the 1998 International Sculpture Symposium, held in Italy. Kley’s “Sullivan Tower,” will be installed at the Sullivan Town Park on Route 1.

Narihiro Uemura’s sculpture shows not only Japanese influence, but also the humor of stylized animated characters. Williams said his work, “I Want to Ride the Cloud,” will be set in front of Pyramid Studio, in Ellsworth.

Ian Newbery, of Sweden, will have his work, “Tribute to Life,” stay at the former Naval Base. It has been installed in front of the new Moore Auditorium.

Roy Patterson, of Gray, had his sculpture, “Sisters,” claimed by Southwest Harbor. It will be installed on the lawn of the Southwest Harbor Public Library.

“A committee of people spent a lot of time in the spring informing all the schools, so there could be field trips in connection with their curriculum,” Weaver said. “An English teacher could have a writing project, a science teacher could take an interest in the granite, and a Social Studies teacher could teach the history of granite quarrying. My love is art,” she explained. “So I did an in-service workshop and gave art and music teachers creative activities.”

Conrad Smith, of Sullivan Granite Co., Gibran Buell and Roger Woodbury, of Sullivan Memorial Stone Work, and Don Maurer, of Fletcher Granite, in Jonesboro, donated granite. The sculptors visited those quarries and selected the granite they would use. Jesse Salisbury donated basalt and used his flatbed truck to move the stone from quarries to the site. Dan Ucci donated the use of a crane and Jeff Gammelin, of Fresh Water Stone, of Orland, donated a truck and crane to help erect the sculptures. Area restaurants donated meals, and the sculptors stayed at former naval base housing. Coordinating Committee member Peter Weil, of Steuben, noted, “A vast number of individuals, organizations, and businesses donated either goods or services to the symposium.”

Winter Harbor got its money’s worth, as the symposium was held at the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park, part of Winter Harbor, which brought more tourists than usual, along with their money, to town to view the sculptors at work on their pieces through the summer.

For six weeks adults and children watched the seven artists as they worked away, power tools making dust fly as they shaped their monumental pieces. Their work can be seen by going to the website below or visiting Schoodic or the physical sites. q

Any town wishing to apply for the 2009 symposium can go to the website: www.schoodicsculpture.org or write: Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium, P. O. Box 22, Steuben, ME 04680.