‘Symbiotic’ exhibit mixes contemporary and historic
For the first time in its history, Casa del Herrero is holding a sculpture exhibition with artwork placed throughout the estate’s historic garden spaces.
“Symbiotic – Seven Contemporary Sculptors at Historic Casa del Herrero” is on view through Nov. 24 at the Montecito site.
Participating artists include Isaac Anguiano, Béla Bácsi, Robert J. Emmons, Pattie Porter Firestone, Victoria Hendler, Joan Rosenberg-Dent and Lynda Weinman.
“It is really quite compelling to view contemporary works of art against the backdrop of the historic estate,” said Karen Jones Clark, Casa board president. “The Casa’s beautiful gardens have become outdoor museum spaces in which to contemplate the fascinating sculptures in the exhibition. The gardens are beautiful, natural works of art, which are now complemented by the figural, natural and abstract forms of the sculptures.
“The collection of artwork (encompassing a variety of mediums) seamlessly integrates with the uniqueness of the estate. In fact, there is an undeniable connection between the two,” Ms. Clark continued. “ ‘Symbiotic’ looks at the interconnection between two seemingly disparate concepts (contemporary and historic) while examining each artist’s relationship to the natural world.”
Mr. Anguiano is a welder and artist who is inspired by the organic world. His process includes implementing natural forms in metal.
His sculpture in the exhibit, “Flor Del Sol,” reminds viewers that ‘mother nature can create something small, beautiful and fragile that has the potential for a bigger impact on us all.”
Mr. Bacsi, who was born in Hungary, became interested in stone carving at an early age. His marble and bronze sculptures are exhibited coast to coast and are held in significant collections throughout the world.
Often referred to as a Renaissance Man, Mr. Emmons has been a corporate CEO, international consultant, university professor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and author of 10 books including six books of poetry.
In his sculptures, he explores all aspects of the human form and celebrates its beauty and diversity.
Ms. Firestone is a sculptor, teacher, designer and arts activist. Her sculptures “portray visible and invisible patterns of energy in the natural world. On view at the Casa, “Leaves of Grass,” depicts unseen energy from below the surface of the earth, pushing six red blades of grass six to nine feet out of the ground.
In her work, Ms. Hendler explores what lies within after everything has been stripped away, when all is bared to its essence. “FEMME” is a series of abstract sculptures that deconstruct the female form. Two pieces from this series are on view at Casa del Herrero.
Ms. Dent is a sculptor working mainly in porcelain and mixed media. Her artwork is presented as abstract sculpture with a minimal approach. The gardens at Casa del Herrero inspired her works for the exhibition, with the forms of nature, architecture and the spaces they contain at the Casa informing the pieces.
Ms. Weinman’s ceramics artwork is driven by curiosity, and she is constantly challenging herself to learn new techniques and explore new ideas. She is fascinated by machine-made objects that can be made to look more organic and random.
When visitors come to Casa del Herrero, or the “House of the Blacksmith,” they are transported back to Montecito in the 1920s and 1930s — the heyday of the original owners, Carrie and George Fox Steedman.
Designed by famed architect George Washington Smith, the Casa is one of the finest examples of Spanish Revival architecture in America. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places and maintains National Historic Landmark status in part due to its eclectic mix of Country Place Era and Moorish-inspired gardens created by Ralph Stevens, Lockwood de Forest and Francis T. Underhill.
Today, the 11-acre estate at 1387 East Valley Road functions as a nonprofit with the goal of preserving the house and grounds as well as the Steedman family’s collection of 15th and 16th-century fine and decorative art objects from the “Golden Age” of Spain, books, sketchbooks, drawings and horticultural records.
“While historic, the Casa remains alive with the creative legacy of the original owners,” said Jessica Tade, executive director. “Through this exhibition, we are collaborating with local artists while also continuing to make good on our desire to support the continued vibrancy of the arts in our community.
“Additionally, the Casa just completed its first-ever youth summer arts program, and it was really exciting to see the participants engage with the sculpture show. The pieces served as further inspiration for the participants as they learned about different art mediums and techniques in the creation of their own art projects.”