In 1996, engineer and innovator Paul Andres purchased Big Bear Mountain in Brookline, NH and moved into the house near the top of the mountain. Based on his lifelong love of nature and passion for art, Paul decided to purchase sculptures to place in the natural setting surrounding his new home.
Coincidentally, master sculptor John M. Weidman had been living in Brookline for many years. Not surprisingly, John’s skill as a sculptor became known to Paul and they began to work together to make plans for adding sculptures to the mountain. In 1998, they co-founded the Andres Institute of Art as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization.
“Andres Institute of Art shall serve and advance the intellectual and social well being of the public by educating and training artists, by promoting the integration of art and technology, and by supporting fine arts.“
The Institute is involved in many activities related to art, including the annual International Bridges and Connections sculpture symposium. The first symposium was held in 1999. Seven artists were invited to come to Brookline for two weeks to create sculptures which would be placed on permanent display on the mountain. Sculptors from Lithuania, Latvia, England, Czech Republic, Ukraine, New Hampshire and Vermont attended this first symposium and stayed with local volunteer families.
It appeared to be a quiet affair from below in Brookline village. Most of the public was unaware of the happenings on Big Bear Mountain. Atop the mountain it was anything but quiet. Sculptors were cutting, bending and welding steel. Others were splitting, shaping grinding and polishing stone. The work was carried out under the gentle guidance of John Weidman, who has served as the Artistic Director of Andres Institute since its founding.
Meanwhile, volunteers groomed and prepared sculpture sites. As the sculptures were completed, volunteers moved them from the studio to the sites using heavy equipment. When the sculptors headed home, seven new sculptures had been placed on the mountain. One of them, Phoenix, is to this day the largest work in the sculpture park; it is 15 feet tall and weighs about 11 tons.
The symposium format proved a great success. Since that time, the Institute has held a sculpture symposium each year, with each symposium having its own theme.
The artists are paid a small stipend for their attendance, but the real reward is that they are allowed to create whatever sculpture they like and to place it wherever they want on the mountain. The Institute provides tools and materials to help each artist realize his or her vision. The artists appreciate this support, and they enjoy the freedom to express their craft according to their own inspiration.
The annual symposia have been truly international in nature with participating artists coming from many countries and diverse cultures across five continents.
As a result of the collective effort from these gifted artists, we now have over 80+ thought-provoking original works of art nestled along walking trails all over the mountain in our 140 acre sculpture park. Our park contains miles of wooded trails, beautiful vistas, and peaceful settings. It is the combination of art and nature that makes a visit to Andres Institute of Art a unique and memorable occasion.
At Andres Institute of Art, we bring art to our community by making the experience of art an everyday relationship. Our purpose is to underline the interface of nature and culture in order to bring the visitor into a closer, and perhaps more comfortable relationship with the works of art. Both the location and the environment of Andres Institute give us the opportunity to continue to build a place in which individuals may experience art and nature in tandem. By placing sculpture within nature’s framework of trees, boulders, critters and mushrooms, viewers are free to consider the undercurrents of the inherently beautiful art form nature has to offer along with each piece of art work. The untouched quality of the Institutes’s 140 acres furthers the experience of a personal connection with nature. The grounds at Andres Institute of Art are open to the public year round -free of charge- and we encourage you to come and enjoy the well-marked trails. Maps are located at the trailhead behind parking lot of Big Bear Lodge.
This is mighty work! And you can play an important role in it!
The Institute is a non-profit organization. We are in part supported by our visionary founder, Paul Andres, as well as by individual contributions. You can contribute to this amazing organization, expressing your value of the arts and your commitment to the natural beauty of our area. Become a member and help us to hold this innovative vision and to expand our creative work!
We invite you to consider the many ways in which you can support the vision…
Financial donations of any amount are gratefully received and wisely managed. Volunteer service in maintaining our trails and leading tours is always appreciated. Service organizations or committed individuals are encouraged to consider “adopting a sculpture” for a year by agreeing to maintain the physical site and sculpture of their choice.
We Welcome Your Participation!
If you have questions on ways to engage or suggestions for new programming at the Institute, we welcome the conversation!
Andres Institute of Art
US Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 226
Brookline, New Hampshire