Outdoor Sculpture

Personalized Spaces of Serenity
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Somewhere on Storm King’s 500-acre sculpture garden in New York, there is a large, open field with a 5-ton metallic, David Smith sculpture on it. It’s a nice spot, but you don’t have to travel that far to get solitude with art in nature. It could happen in your own backyard.

For many collectors, placing art around a sofa or table is no problem, but around hedges, trees or other plant life is another sort of talent. Art-Talk interviewed five gallery owners/directors who commented on creating mystique and serenity in sculpture gardens for collectors expanding their artistic territory. With the philosophy of Storm King Art Center’s garden, located in Mountainville, N.Y., the goal of owners Ralph E. Ogden and H. Peter Stern was to turn the rolling farmland near the Hudson River into an open space where sculpture could be viewed in the wild. Originally the museum was formed to house the work of the Hudson Valley painters, but Ogden wanted the open-aired display of sculptures after visiting an Australian quarry and viewing David Smith’s (1906-1965) sculptures placed in Smith’s backyard. The appeal of this great, modern sculpture garden is that it allows people to be in expansive spots of nature with large works. The vastness makes a visit a tranquil, almost ethereal experience. But as Nedra Matteucci, owner of the Nedra Matteucci Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., who displayed one of the first sculpture gardens in the West, says by adding art to outdoor spaces, “You can create your own little paradise.” Matteucci’s goal and passion was to take the acre plot behind the gallery and turn it into a public garden. Alex Hanna, gallery director, says, “The previous owner of the gallery, Forrest Fenn, created the garden for himself. Nedra has slowly transformed it. The trees have grown in, the pond was developed, it’s peaceful, lush–an oasis in Santa Fe. It was created for people to relax and take a break.” In creating serene gardens, clutter can be avoided even in the tiny spaces by using coves. Matteucci says this gives the individual eye a place to rest and creates intimacy with the sculpture. “You usually have more space than you realize. By using plants and trees, you can find little niches and use nature to frame the work. It’s all about creating small spaces in the larger context.” Similar to indoor hangings, Hanna says placement is about finding work that you love and that “makes sense in each space.”

Caswell Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Natural Design

Finding the right piece for a space, including desert terrain, opens the doors to diversity in building a progressive collection. Gallery Owner Kim Roseman of the Karin Newby Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Tubac, Ariz., cleared out a 120-feet by 120-feet space of her gallery’s two-acre plot to create an outdoor sculpture garden. With the gallery showing primarily rustic, Western art indoors, Roseman wanted the garden to offer greater diversity outdoors. Keeping the look of the garden organic by using already present elements, such as the trimmed tree branches and rocks to create fencing, the natural environment remained neutral letting the sculptures provide ornamentation. “Leroy Doyle, the gallery’s director for the last 17 years, is an avid gardener,” says Roseman. “He used the tree trimmings and rocks to create works similar to these organic works by artists. They make these monumental natural sculptures. The point of them is not to preserve them forever, but to enjoy them while they last. As they deteriorate, they change shape until they are gone. Leroy made these 9-foot high fences with tree trimmings and rock base.”