Wind harp to be installed at UMM

Posted March 11, 2011, at 10:27 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A granite and steel wind harp — an outdoor sculpture installation that creates a melody as the wind moves across its brass strings — will be installed this spring on the University of Maine at Machias campus.

The harp is the creation of Gary Bushee of Sullivan, a musician, educator, woodworker and storyteller. Bushee has been involved in visiting artist programs at elementary schools in Hancock and Washington counties for more than ten years. He also has conducted workshops in music, movement and country dance for the Schoodic Arts Festival in Winter Harbor and, as a member of the Eastern Trio, has performed for concerts, barn dances and other community events around eastern Maine for two decades.

Bushee recently completed his education at UMM from 2004 to 2006. “Universities are meant for public art,” he said. “I chose the University at Machias for the wind harp because it is kind of the completion of my work there.”

Bushee last year applied for and was granted a Maine Arts’ Commission Good Idea Grant for $1,500. Despite never having explored the art of stonecutting, Bushee decided to make a wind harp from Maine granite.

“One of the goals of Good Idea Grants is for artists to stretch beyond their known areas, to try something totally new,” he said. Bushee is a stringed-instrument musician who specializes in the Celtic harp. “I basically learned stone cutting on this project.”

He cut the four pieces necessary to construct the harp at a local quarry and will be installing a steel sound board and brass wires later this winter. The granite structure is 7 feet tall and 11 feet wide, and will have 36 strings.

Bushee is raising installation funds. A dance and potluck supper held Friday night at the Machias Grange raised $150, bringing the total of installation funds raised to about $600. “I think I’m about halfway there,” he said.

For information or to make a donation, contact Gary Bushee at 578 Bert Gray Road, Sullivan, ME 04664, call 266-2117 or e-mail