Art Park La Court, Twenty years of art among the vineyards
2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Art Park La Court, the most evocative – and perhaps the boldest – of Michele Chiarlo’s projects. An open air museum on the hills of Castelnuovo Calcea, the symbol of exchange between art and the vineyard.
When the Art Park La Court opened in the summer of 2003, it immediately became clear that this would be more than a mere art exhibit among the vineyards. More than an open-air museum. And more than a sheer work of land art within a suggestive setting. The Art Park was born to transform the landscape, to turn the agricultural environment into a real fairy tale, a place where hard work and creativity would find the right balance. Just like the vineyard described by Cesare Pavese, the Art Park aims to be a window to «a breathtaking scene, an event that is unknown to memory and to the imagination». After all, has anybody ever seen so many artists working up and down the headlands? Can anybody recall a “Comune” among the vineyards, the bustling of dozens of people bringing outlines, drawings and projects? And, most importantly, can anybody remember these people living together in the same farmstead, sharing everyday life and contaminating their art with that of others?
Michele Chiarlo had the “vision” of the Art Park in the early 2000s: the first vineyard to become an artistic site in constant evolution. He chose a prime location for the project, Tenuta La Court: twenty hectares, three farmhouses and two hills in the town of Castelnuovo Calcea, where he cultivated the best grapes for Nizza and Barbera d’Asti. To lead this “transformation” he called on Giancarlo Ferraris, a painter from Nizza Monferrato with whom he shared a long creative history: Ferraris was, in fact, behind all of Michele Chiarlo’s labels. «It was a gargantuan feat, perhaps the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced», says Ferraris. « I gathered a dozen artists, friends and exemplary artisans, to work together. There were potters, blacksmiths, sculptors, painters and mosaicists. The skills of each one completed those of the others and the projects became more interesting because we worked together on them: it was like a “Warholian Factory” in Castelnuovo Calcea», he adds.
«The idea was to create an interactive path through the vineyards» the Artistic Director recalls. «We did not want mere artistic installations, but a place for active meditation, where the works of art further captivated the viewer, who was already immersed within a spectacular landscape. We had visited several art parks, but we wanted something revolutionary: the mechanics of art should penetrate nature». Thus came the idea for a path that touched different locations, along which visitors could find some iconic works related to the elements of nature: the Place of Water, the Place of Fire and the Place of Air.
«We wanted the Art Park to differ from a regular museum», Ferraris continues. «It had to be a dynamic place in continuous transformation, just like nature. We knew that, over the years, other works would be added, and that we would have to host events, shows and temporary exhibitions». Together with the Park, the Associazione Orme su La Court, which handles cultural entertainment, was also founded. Every summer, from 2003 to 2010, themed events were organized to urge people to come to the park and share their experiences: this involved talks, workshops, music and exhibitions. «We would have 800 attendees: people ate in the vineyards, walked among the art works, sang and tasted wine. There was also an area for meditation in nature where all you had to do was to look at the horizon», Ferraris jokingly adds.
«Albeit small, we certainly have made a mark in history», the Art Park’s director concludes, «at least in artistic terms. You cannot find a place as revolutionary as the Art Park among the vineyards of Piedmont».
TWENTY YEARS OF CONTINUOUS CHANGE<
A timeline of Art Park La Court
Opening of the Art Park La Court and solo exhibition of Emanuele Luzzati. Temporary exhibitions of works from the other park artists.
2004 (– 2010)
«Themed events» were organized. Art Park La Court opened at night offering music, tastings and talks, featuring illustrious guests from the world of art, sports and culture.
The Art Park won La Biennale di Venezia’s 3rd BICA Award (Biennale di Comunicazione Ambientale) in the field of Business and Culture.
Art Park La Court receives an award from the Osservatorio del Paesaggio for: «Quality projects in Asti and Monferrato»
Inauguration of the Permanent Multimedia Archive dedicated to illustrious people from Piedmont. The archive is found inside Cascina Castello.
Pop in vigna, a personal exhibit by Ugo Nespolo.
Humor in vigna, an exhibition of cartoons by Emilio Giannelli.
The Art Park celebrates ten years. The Vineyard Door, by Ugo Nespolo, was set up. Nespolo is the man behind the Nizza Riserva La Court Vigna Veja label.
Art Park La Court is located within Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, officially recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Mega art in vigna. The Art Park welcomes «Mother Nature», a giant statue made by Emanuele Luzzati; Chris Bangle’s Big Bench and Giancarlo Ferraris’ painting dedicated to Umberto Eco.
La Court Audio guide is created. The app can be downloaded on a smartphone and allows visitors to freely visit the park.
The park welcomes «Il paesaggio come patrimonio culturale identitario», an art work created by middle school children from Nizza Monferrato led by Elena Franco.
The Art Park celebrates 20 years of art among the vineyards.