Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Charles Umlauf was the son of German farmers who migrated to Chicago in 1911 to escape anti-German sentiments. At 14 he was orphaned in his tough Chicago neighborhood however managed to survive winning a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. Post graduation the Depression struck and problems obtaining work occurred, however fate changed as he met and married, Angeline, with their partnership producing 6 children. It was also during this time his provocative and haunting work was noticed.

Example of his haunting work

Two very different sculptures depicting the family.

A realistic sculpture of Mother and Child

In 1941 he was offered and accepted a position at University of Texas at Austin where he worked for the next 40 years as an art professor and sculptor. He and his wife built a home on the grounds where the garden now stands and his donation to the City of Austin is a lasting legacy.

Then a passionate work, The Lovers
And some whimsy, The Skater

Umlauf’s works are found in the Met in NYC, the Smithsonian, and Houston’s Love Field. They run the gambit from impressionism to abstract, to life like sculptures. He worked in marble, wood, rose quartz, and onyx. Creating his sculptures using an ancient Lost Wax Method, from the classic Greeks, here are the steps:

  • A charcoal sketch was created.
  • Followed by a 3 dimensional clay model
  • Plaster was then molded over the clay
  • This was then sent to Italy where the wax was specially treated and fired creating a mold.
  • Copper and tin were then poured into the mold.
  • The final work was then chiseled away.

All this is explained in a fascinating movie narrated by Umlauf. What a unique and treasured gift Austin received in his donation of the Sculpture Garden.

Go and enjoy this must see..

This concludes my Austin visit. Great way to end the trip.

North Carolina Art Museum: Garden Tour

The North Carolina Art Museum has an extensive outside sculpture collection in their park. On most Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. they have a 90 minute free walk through the collection. On this day David, the volunteer docent, gave an amazing tour. Let’s start..

This sculpture is known as Askew, and was created by Virginia born, New York based artist Roxy Paine. Standing 30 feet tall this steel sculpture is not meant to be a tree but a dendroid, similiar to our veins. Check out the North Carolina Art Museum website to see how it was installed.

Ogromna which means huge in Polish is true to its name. This cedar sculpture was created by Polish artist Ursula vonRydingsvard. It is one solid piece of wood however it was sliced in order to be mounted in its location. The artist grew up in a wooded area of Poland where she developed her love for this art form.

The Three Shades Can you see they are one individual joined?

These lovely Rodins were the impetus for the new museum building as the owner, Iris Cantor, wished her sculptures be displayed in a better site. Thus the new museum building was forged. In front of these amazing works is a lotus pool. At the present time several sculptures are being refurbished at Stanford University.

The Rodin Garden is one of five courtyards which surround the museum building. Three of these courtyards have water features, however the courtyard pictured below was a creation of Mother Nature. It is one of simplicity and beauty. She’s quite an artist wouldn’t you say?

Linear Courtyard

While the museum was born via state funding in the 1940’s it currently is funded by a 70% foundation/30% state partnership. Support through annual memberships of $50 annually is a key component to their operation. These memberships provide many free items and discounted concerts, movies, and special events. This month a special exhibit of Frida Kahlo will be at the museum and every March Art in Bloom, the museum’s biggest fundraiser occurs.

Now, back to the tour…

Collapse by African artist Ledelle Moe is created in cement and depicts the concept that nothing last forever. Her father was a road builder and this encouraged the artist to work in this medium. It is currently on loan to the museum.

The artist also has this work in the African area of the Museum.

Crossroads in another unique piece in the Park. As the museum was built on the former Polk Youth Center this sculpture says much in its title and creation. It is made of bricks from the former youth center by Martha Jackson Jarvis.

Pigcasso is a fun piece which is part of the Discovery Center of the park. A playground is nearby by and there is a spot for picnics as well. Plans are underway for a butterfly garden.

The Museum grounds are watered via a swale system. All rainwater is captured flowing to an onsite pond. The water is cleaned via this system and provides for a beautiful spot.

What a delightful way to spend a morning. There are also volunteer docents on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. who explain paintings to children. Check out the museum website for specifics, and come for a visit. It will leave you with many fond memories.

Final N.C. Weekend: Raleigh

For my final North Carolina weekend I revisited Raleigh. The next few blogs will discuss things to see and do at the capitol city. There are plenty and mostly free.

Let’s start at the North Carolina Art Museum with their new modern art exhibit.

Material World Exhibit: Recycled Art

This painting was made from recycled posters.

Any idea what this is?
It’s pencil shavings..
The sea in this scene was made from recycled fish hooks.
And this creature is totally covered in buttons.

Any ideas? This piece is made from recycled computer parts.

At the end of this gallery is an intriguing piece of modern art. Kusama, is the highest paid female artist in the world. She is 90 and lives in a mental hospital in Japan. Here she checked herself in and has resided for close to 40 years. There is a Netflix documentary on her life. Gaze into the porthole of The Light of Life…..

Here is a quote from the artist on her work.

“Isn’t this the very illusion of life in our transient world?”

North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA)

Silver Tree Sculpture on walkway to museum.
How graceful.

Visited NCMA and all I can say is WOW! And coming from a New Yorker that is quite a compliment as we have so many fabulous museums in New York City.

This museum run strictly through state funds houses collections in Ancient, American, European, Classical, Judaic, African, and Modern Art. While a good portion of the art is donated many pieces are acquired through state funding. The donation box states it costs $38. for each visitor and the museum is free, so go there for lunch, buy a $20 coffee mug at the museum shop, but donate so this continues into the future. It is a jewel in the world of museums.

Museum Building

Walking from the parking lot one notices a building similar to a plastic box, however once inside the space is breath taking. The lighting, art arrangements, and partitions are sublime. Many patrons were in wheelchairs and walkers. The layout with art on the first floor and spacious hallways affords navigation for all to appreciate the art.

So, now that I’ve gloated over the building, let’s talk of art.. When walking from the parking lot to the museum a Rodin greets you at the crosswalk.

This was a tickle of what was to come. Here is the Rodin Garden.

Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor who lived from 1840-1917. He is considered one of the premier fathers of modern sculpture. Here is my favorite from the collection, The Cathedral, cast in 1908.

From here the journey continued into European and religious works. Madonna and Child to the left with St. Barbara and St. Valentine to the right. St. Barbara and I have a special affinity as I have seen her enormous church outside Prague. She is the Saint known for protection from storms.

Then we have the European collection which was extraordinary.

There was even a Judaic area. Here the Jewish holidays were explained along with impressive Torah coverings exhibited. The Torah is the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible. Each temple prominently displays the Torah. A Tik is the wooden case which holds the Torah.

The sculptures from the early centuries were of excellent quality. A Roman from the late 2nd century was my favorite. Even without an arm he is quite spectacular.

American Art

And of course besides Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, John Trumbull, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase, there was modern art. Here are a few I was able to enjoy and appreciate.

The sculpture garden has several gems. There also is a bike path in this area.

And as I was leaving I discovered the African portion of the museum. Also in this building is a 5 minute video of the Audubon birds. Cute and must see. Both children and adults would enjoy this.

The museum also has concerts, movie nights and other happenings. Get on their email list for events, or better yet become a member. Collections rotate. A Frida Kahlo exhibit is coming October 26th. Another must see.

Hope you enjoyed this visit as much as I did and will stop by to see this amazing museum.