The Nature of Sculpture: Art in the Garden

Apr 6, 2015

Oscar_Magallenes_PinataOver 80 artists have roamed the grounds of the Arboretum looking, searching, waiting for that feeling, that moment of “aha,” finding the spot that speaks to them and ignited their creative energy. Having found “their” spot, these artists have used clay, metal, and mixed media to create pieces representing, says curator Patricia Ferber, the “harmony of nature and sculpture (that) elevates the human spirit.”

“The Nature of Sculpture: Art in the Garden” opens Wednesday, April 1st, and runs through Saturday, August 1st. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 11th. This afternoon event (4-7 p.m.) allows time for guests to roam the gardens themselves, listen to live music, enjoy some wine, and meet the artists.

One participating artist is Oscar Magallenes who’s a political adherent. So how does—how can—politics tie in with the show’s theme of harmony and elevating one’s spirit? Oscar responded to our posing of this question:

My work is always political so the concept plays with themes that are common in my work. First is the idea of dualities such as day and night, and how those interact to create closed systems. Also the use of icons is important to my work’s exploration in meaning-making through symbols and visual vocabulary within a community and how that is juxtaposed against a larger society that ignores the destruction just south of the border. This is why my piece is titled “Piñata” (top right) as in something to be destroyed in order to make a grab at the bounty inside. The work needed to be hung so the tree along with the different types of plants and the large, well-manicured lawn just adjacent to it played into the concepts while complimenting the work esthetically.




The exhibit is included in the price of admission during regular Arboretum hours. The reception costs $25, which includes entrance for one adult, a catalog, and two drink tickets. (Another $25 will fill one’s cup ‘o wine two more times.)

Participating artists come from all over California, though many are from our own San Gabriel Valley, such as Leigh Adams and the wonderful and divine Walter Askin who told us about his work, it’s meaning, and it’s location:

“Sentinel” is a flame-cut steel, galvanized and painted sculpture. It is one of a series of works depicting seers – visionaries looking out from a promontory. It also depicts a protector…a guardian…




I chose the site in the Madagascar section of the Arboretum because it offers a mound that looks out above viewers who come to see the show as they venture along a path below…

The “Sentinel” is surrounded by forms that are spiky, full of thorns, and exceptionally unique and unusual, which works magically with and echo the assembled forms found in “Sentinel.”


Walter Askin with "Sentinel"

Walter Askin with “Sentinel”


Another participant is Philip Cornelius who, according to Randye Hoder in a 1990 L.A. Times article, is best known for his “thinware.” A teacher for 25 years at PCC, Cornelius “molds delicate sheets of porcelain into abstract forms, almost all based on the common household teapot.”


Gibson by Philip Cornelius

Gibson by Philip Cornelius


“Opulence” is the piece contributed by Brad Howe who’s series of works has been described as springing “as much from Santa’s shop as from Brancusi’s.”


Bringing in "Opulence"; photos courtesy of L.A. Arboretum

Bringing in “Opulence”; photo courtesy of L.A. Arboretum


Drywall mesh, like a tape, was used in the creation of “La Dentura” (“Toothy”) by muralist, painter and sculptor Margaret Garcia. Her work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian, the National Mexican Museum, and LACMA. Garcia’s show “Una Chicana Sola” may be seen at the Jean Deleage Art Gallery at CASA 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights through the month of April.




“The Nature of Sculpture: Art in the Garden”
Wednesday, April 1st-Saturday, August 11th
Exhibit included in regular price of admission, $4-$9
Opening Reception, Saturday, April 11th, 4-7 p.m.
L.A. Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia 91007
Reception cost: $25 or $50; purchase tickets here
For details, visit


More examples of works on exhibit:

Photos courtesy of L.A. Arboretum

Abundance by Russell Ruff; photo courtesy of L.A. Arboretum



Organic structure (image from Maloof exhibit) by Philip Vaughan; photo courtesy of L.A. Arboretum




Ups and Downs by David Kiddie





“Rock star” ceramicist Joe Soldate passed away in March 2014. For a show at Xiem Clay Center in 2011, Soldate remarked that he was “more interested in process than conclusion. I enjoy remnants. Sometimes I use clay in my work. I often use time. I like the pressure and rhythm of time-based events.”

Soldate taught at Cal State University, Los Angeles for 36 years before retiring in 2002. He is remembered for a number of characteristics and talents, as well as creating Soldate 60, a special classroom formula clay that replaces 30-mesh sand with finer 60-mesh sand. Soldate wanted a clay that was more durable and it has become a standard in classrooms around the country. It is easy to throw and holds it shape well, according to CoffeePottery.

One of Soldate’s Ghost Tile Piece – The Restoration (1979) is included in “The Nature of Sculpture.”




Joe Soldate; photo sourced from CSULA

Joe Soldate; photo sourced from CSULA




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