Sunday, August 25, 2002
Don Cerow teaches the myths of stars at Woodhenge,
by Debbie Tuma
Bridgehampton- When Walter Channing began erecting huge inverted tree sculptures 15 years ago in the Bridgehampton fields that later became Channing Daughters Winery, he never dreamed that they would become part of a Long Island version of Stonehenge.
But a meeting last year between Mr Channing and Don Cerow, an astrologer and fellow woodworker, has resulted in the creation of an unusual sculpture garden that opened this summer at the winery.
Last fall, Channing Daughters began a collaboration with the Custer Institute, an astronomy observatory in Southold, holding stargazing workshops under the fall and winter skies.
"Our vineyard is fortunate to have little ambient light, being in the middle of 110 acres in the farm fields, surrounded by woods, off Scuttlehole Road," Mr Channing said.
That program fit well with the plans of Mr. Cerow, 51, of Southold. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1976 with a specialty in astrology and astronomy in the ancient world. He had been teaching about star myths at several colleges and universities and was offered the chance to hold classes at the winery.
He had been looking for years for the right place to build something comparable to the prehistoric circle of stone monoliths in England that is thought to have been used to chart the seasons.
"I saw that people are hungry for this celestial information, and I got the idea to incorporate the stargazing workshops into my lifelong plan for Woodhenge," he said. His version consists of 56 10-foot wooden fenceposts placed to align with stars and planets at certain times of the year.
Between the posts, candle laterns illuminate arches that mark the four directions. At each of the compass points, Mr Channing has begun to erect tree sculptures.
"I was always fascinated by the roots of trees, and over the years I've put some of my sculptures up on this property," he said. "I carve dead trees, which I find by the side of the road, on my land, or in the dump. I have them hauled to my woodworking studio, which is also on this vineyard."
At the entrance of Woodhenge is his tallest piece, a 50-foot inverted oak carved and painted to look like a pencil.
"I put it on top of a 10-foot platform so that from a distance it would appear to be floating above the grape vines," Mr Channing said.
Behind that sculpture is the inverted 30-foot "Chimeric Tree," its roots pointing skyward and carved into a gargoyle with the intertwined heads of a horse, alligator, giraffe, fish and serpent.
On the eastern axis, Mr. Channing has erected two 35-foot inverted white pines that resemble two long-legged women, which he calls "Leaning Ladies." He plans to erect a cedar totem pole at the northern axis. Plans for the western axis remain shrouded in mystery.
"There's more to come- I hope to add more sculptures to Woodhenge," Mr Channing said. "I think it all blends together as a wonderful teaching tool and meeting place for the public to learn about the stars."
Mr. Cerow held a stargazing workshop at the center of the circle at the opening in June, pointing out constellations and recounting their myths.
"We see this as a great educational tool, as well as a sort of outdoor art gallery, for both adults and school groups," he said. "We've had people coming here from all over Long Island, with an interest in stargazing, and the winter is even better, because the stars are most visible. It's a magical experience."
Woodhenge: Heaven and Earth July 4th, 2002
Another story on Woodhenge, this one
headlining the The Sag Harbor Express's, 4th July, 2002 edition.