The power of a sculpture garden

What happens when you visit a public or private sculpture garden or an expanse of land that has art on view in an outdoor setting? Does the visitor have to work harder to enjoy or experience the art when the setting is natural? Does the sculpture interact with the surrounding natural environment to create a new, transformative experience?

Modern outdoor sculpture - TerraSculpture Embrace

Embrace, by Terra Sculpture, set in a public open space.

For some, public landscape art provides a quiet and contemplative respite from noisy urban areas. For others, a public sculpture garden is an extension of an indoor space or gallery like a museum, where larger substantial pieces of art can be viewed without the typical constraints of walls and crowds. Across the U.S. there are extraordinary outdoor environments to experience landscape sculpture including the Storm King Art Center, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum , the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Modern Outdoor Sculpture Garden, Hirshhorn Museum

Alexander Calder’s Six Dots Over a Mountain kinetic sculpture in the gardens of the Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

There is no doubt a great love and appreciation for outdoor sculpture in Washington D.C. As artists, we are fortunate to have many sculpture commissions and installations in the Washington D.C. area in both private and public settings.  As we have thought about how our pieces interact with the environs of our clients’ settings, we can’t help but also wonder how the public interacts with art in an outdoor public space.

Terra Sculpture - Modern Outdoor Sculpture at the Foundry Lofts

Tempest, Snap and Verita, art works by Terra Sculpture, on view outdoors in the public art space at the Foundry Lofts in Washington D.C.

Kismet by Terra Scultpure - Modern Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Kismet, a stainless steel sculpture by Terra Sculpture, on view in the garden of a private residence near Washington D.C.

One of our favorite places to experience outdoor sculpture is the The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington DC.  The outdoor gallery resides on 6 acres adjacent to the National Mall and contains 18 pieces of original art. The garden was designed by Philadelphia-based landscape architectural firm OLIN in 1999 after the property’s jurisdiction was transferred from the National Parks Service to the National Gallery in 1991.

When we visit the garden, we appreciate the garden’s structural bones, the soft grass berms, the well-placed understory shade trees, and the benches that provide perfect vantage points from which to enjoy these oversized marvels like Spider by Louise Bourgeois.

Spider by Louise Bourgeois, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.

Spider by Louise Bourgeois, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., photo by Sailko

The variety of art that the sculpture garden supports is wide and is made up of post-WWII pieces. Installations include Ellsworth Kelly’s Stele II, Claes Oldenburg’s Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, Joan Miró’s Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Eclair, and Roy Lichtenstein’s House I. Lead architect Laurie Olin created each room to provide a comfortable enclave for visitors to rest and reflect, using American trees and shrubs to define the space.

Stele II by Ellsworth Kelly - Outdoor Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Stele II by Ellsworth Kelly – Outdoor Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg, Outdoor Modern Art  / Garden Sculpture

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg, Outdoor Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Whether experienced in a walled gallery or in the open space of a sculpture garden, the power of art is it’s ability to manifest an idea, emotion, or a concept. The expression of an outdoor sculpture can be comforting or disturbing, revelatory or transformative.  The presence of a sculpture in the landscape is undeniably impactful.

 

 

Living in a work of modern art


Being a California-based sculpture and design studio we are constantly surrounded by mid century modernism and its influences. Many of our sculptures are placed in treasured buildings from this nostalgic era—where connecting the indoor space to the outdoor environment creates a certain harmony throughout the home.  When we received an inquiry for a commission of our three-ringed, stainless steel modernist sculpture Sisters, we had no idea that it would  be placed in this stunning minimalist garden, the centerpiece of an extraordinary mid century modern home in Newport Beach, California.

Mid Century Modern Newport Beach Exterior 2

Sisters sculpture,  Weber residence, Newport Beach, California.

California architecture, art and design was forever changed thanks to Midcentury Modernism. More than 50 years after this style benchmark we are still impacted by its design ethos, which plays heavily on what most would define as the California lifestyle. Expansive multi-room living spaces, clean-lined clerestory windows, and seamless indoor/outdoor transitions typify some of the founding elements.

Smith Residence,  Erickson/Massey Architects, Coast Modern film

Smith Residence, Erickson/Massey architects.  Photo by Mike Bernard courtesy Coast Modern film.

Much of the architectural landscape in California changed when Joseph Eichler and A. Quincy Jones descended on middle-income enclaves, bridging the gap between Northern California architecture and Southern California architecture and blurring the lines between private and public spaces. John Lautner, a Frank Lloyd Wright prodigy, also designed residences that capitalized on vistas and expansive views.

Goldstein Sheats house John Lautner

Sheats Goldstein residence, Los Angeles, California, John Lautner architect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our client’s 1966 Newport Beach home was designed by Arthur Erickson (1924-2009), one of Canada’s most celebrated modern architects. The homeowner Mark Weber wanted to surprise his wife Laura for their anniversary with the gift of sculpture.  Mark asked us if we could create Sisters and have it ready to  surprise Laura within a week.

Mid Century Modern Home Newport Interior 1

Weber residence, Newport Beach, California. Arthur Erickson architect.

Erickson was a proponent of concrete, metal, and expansive use of glass utilizing the surrounding nature often with water views. We were thrilled to have the sculpture reside within view of the home’s interior.  We love how it alters the space with its expressive 6-foot abstract form, juxtaposing the home’s classic angular lines with the softness of the rings. We also love how the shapes of the smaller succulents mimic the spherical shapes of the sculpture.

Mid Century Modern Newport Beach Interior 3

Sisters sculpture in atrium at Weber residence, Newport Beach, California. Arthur Erickson architect

To learn more about mid century modern architecture, we recommend a beautiful documentary Coast Modern. The film showcases the pioneers of West Coast Modernist Architecture, including Erickson, who designed spaces with a “sense of place, light and a deep connection to the earth.”  This stunning and captivating film, directed by Mike Bernard and Gavin Frome,  is screening at film festivals around the country and is also available on Itunes and Amazon.

About Sisters sculpture:

Artist Jennifer Gilbert Asher was born the middle child in a family of three sisters. When she conceptualized Sisters sculpture she reflected on how she fits in to her own family unit. The rings suggest the supportive and interdependent relationship between the women in her family. Each sphere facing a different direction, yet still strengthening and supporting one another. There’s no doubt that nostalgia played a role in her design, just as fans of the Midcentury Modern design movement continue to flock to the era’s nostalgic homes, furniture and works of art.

Mid Century Modern residence TerraSculpture3

Sisters sculpture, Weber residence, Newport Beach, California. Arthur Erickson architect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the studio: masters of metal


On any given day in our studio, you might find us designing, shearing, bending or welding our limited edition modern abstract steel sculpture or sculptural trellises for TerraTrellis.  We are often asked by private collectors, landscape architects and interior designers to create large scale versions of our limited edition sculpture or sometimes we are asked to use a different type of metal.  Below are some studio and site photos of commissioned sculptures not seen on our website. And some behind-the-scenes of us at work, as we imagine and craft our modern abstract sculpture for public and private spaces.

Sisters stainless steel modern abstract sculpture outdoor

The three ringed Sisters is one of our limited edition sculptures.  This piece was customized with a stainless steel barrel as a base for a client in Washington D.C. .

Flight stainless steel Modern Abstract Outdoor Sculpture

We made this Flight sculpture in solid stainless steel with a dark powdercoated cube for it’s base. Flight is typically created in white powdercoated steel with a weathered metal base.

Closer stainless steel modern abstract sculpture outdoor

Our Washington D.C. client commissioned a version of Closer, scaled up and in solid stainless steel instead of the limited edition powdercoated version.

 

Jennifer Asher studio steel modern abstract sculpture outdoor Kismet 10 ft.

Terra Sculpture artist Jennifer Gilbert Asher works in the studio on a 10 foot version of Kismet sculpture for a client in northern California.

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Terra Sculpture artist Mario Lopez smiles as he works on the installation of a commissioned wall sculpture titled Time on Earth for a client in Los Angeles.


TerraSculpture Commission Koi courtyard

Time On Earth as it was installed. We were commissioned to design and create a sculpture worthy of these 18-yr-old prized Koi for a client in the Loz Feliz area of Los Angeles.  

Jennifer Gilbert Asher maquette studio steel modern abstract sculpture outdoor.

Artist Jennifer Gilbert Asher works on a wood maquette in the studio before it is ultimately crafted out of steel.

 

A star is born in Seattle

modern outdoor sculpture TerraSculpture Kismet Northwest Flower and Garden Show

A specially-commissined Kismet sculpture is dramatically featured in a lush, modern garden at the Northwest Flower and Garden show.

Seattle’s award-winning landscape design firm Sublime Garden Design called our studio about a year ago, inquiring if we would create a commissioned sculpture as a focal point for a garden they were developing for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  This is the second largest garden show in the U.S. with 60,000 visitors and six acres of display gardens. (Luminary garden experts and best-selling authors Amy Stewart, Debra Prinzing, Billy Goodnick and Nan Sterman also drew crowds this year.)

As soon as we saw the stunning garden concept by designer/owner Heidi Skievaski we said yes. Heidi and her team created a lush, modern garden, complete with a star-gazing deck and telescope, naming it “Living Amongst the Stars.” The finished space proved extraordinary.  Blooming Narcissus, Angel’s Trumpet, Abutilon, Helleborus and a towering Monkey Puzzle Tree (all an amazing feat in the middle of a cold, wet Seattle winter) created a dramatic, layered backdrop for the twining metallic Kismet.

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The garden was a literal show-stopper. It was one of the most talked-about, photographed and admired gardens in the show.

The sculpture was so impactful, we decided to offer a special, limited edition of Kismet (created with twisted solid steel bars and a special clear/silvery powdercoat finish) through TerraSculpture.com. The original larger-scaled Seattle Kismet never made it back to L.A.  A Seattle collector purchased it right from the exhibit floor and the sculpture is now sited in a private garden on the shores of Lake Washington.

“Living Amongst the Stars” also won a well-deserved gold medal.  To learn more about the behind-the-scenes of this spectacular installation, read Sublime Garden Design’s blog.

Fine Gardening Magazine was also a big fan.

Modern sculpture TerraSculpture studio Kismet

Creating Kismet in the studio: bending, welding and crafting the sculpture

 

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closeup of our new silvery steel Kismet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Up

We are often asked by clients, designers, architects and art consultants to create large scale versions of our limited edition sculpture for commercial and private projects.   We recently collaborated with talented landscape architect Steve Kikuchi of  Kikuchi and Associates to create a 10 foot commission of our sculpture Kismet for his clients near Palo Alto, California.  The large scale of this sculpture was challenging to create, but the results are thrilling and the clients (well-versed and highly appreciative of art) very pleased.  The setting of this commission is one of the most dramatic we’ve seen. Photos by Ali Altri.

 

TerraSculpture, Kismet, steel and bronze powdercoat (10 ft. commission)

TerraSculpture, Kismet, steel and bronze powdercoat (10 ft. commission)

We also recently created 10 foot commission of our sculpture Embrace for a client in the Hollywood Hills.  The sculpture was sited in a reflecting pool in an ultra-modern residence which was recently acquired by the Winklevoss brothers of Facebook fame.

TerraSculpture, Embrace, stainless steel and marble (10 ft. commission, Hollywood Hills, CA)

 

Bright Ideas

This October’s issue of C Magazine is as beautiful to look at as it is intriguing to read.  The entire issue is devoted to innovative California-based artists and designers, so we were thrilled when they chose to feature our studio (“A Bright Idea” pg. 86) in the mix.   A shout out to photographer Lauren Devon for her beautiful photography of our trellises.  p.s. notice the exquisite monarch butterfly seen below our story–a true specimen of living sculpture!

 

Terra Sculpture goes public (art)

Terra Sculpture is honored to have been selected by the Arts Commission of the city of Richland, Washington to create three large-scale versions of our Sisters sculpture for a public space/pedestrian walk along the Columbia River.  This marks a significant milestone for us: our first public art installation.  We couldn’t have chosen a more lovely city or site (in truth, earlier this year they chose us which was a welcome surprise.)

The commissioned work is a trio of  Sisters, different sizes, grouped together to form a dynamic figure in the open space. The Arts Commission of Richland photoshopped this concept into the site which is seen in the photo above.  Our tools and hands are ready….and so the work begins.

 

We often design a one-of-a-kind  aspect to our limited edition pieces.  For a very appreciative (and hip) Portland couple we created an enameled apple green metal cube to elevate their version of Sisters. Whether in a public or private space, Sisters takes on a different character, altering the viewer’s experience. Thank you to our wonderful clients who are open to new ideas and share our vision to innovate.

Snapshots: HGTV shoot @ Terra Sculpture

Last November Australian landscape designer and HGTV host Jamie Durie brought cameras and clients to visit our Los Angeles sculpture garden for an episode of his new hit show The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie which aired July 9th.

Jamie Durie and clients Nick and Anna debate which sculpture they envision for their landscape from Terra Sculpture’s garden gallery.

Jamie’s muse for Miles and Ana’s garden was the artfully inspired and eco-friendly city of San Francisco.  Jamie found particular influences from the California Academy of Sciences (so brilliantly designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano),   Flora Grubb Gardens and public sculpture gardens.  In only three days, Jamie and his crew completely transformed Nick and Anna’s Eagle Rock residence into a stunning, modern, artful environment.   Jamie is one extremely talented visionary and a fabulous landscape designer.  It was a g’day indeed!

Kismet

“What chance did I stand against Kismet?”

Kismet, our new oxidized steel sculpture, was a long time in the making.  Many, many hours in the studio stretching, bending, twining and weaving 1/2″ thick solid steel (just so) is an arduous but gratifying endeavor.  Kismet’s organic, serpentine silhouette twists like an ancient, gnarled tree trunk, yet her inspiration is something much more diminutive: DNA. Fate, destiny, chance: Kismet.