George Rickey (1907-2002) formed a career with what he referred to as “useless machines.” These machines, carefully calibrated kinetic sculptures made of stainless steel, sway intermittently with the currents. Clock hands in the wind, Rickey’s Two Lines Up-Spread mark the passing of time like a pendulum pulsing to the day. The son of an engineer and the grandson of a clockmaker, Rickey’s pursuit of first, painting and second, kinetic sculpture are not without nod to his family’s history of tinkering with cogs, creating movement. Movement became the movement of his career. His steel, wind-driven formations described by TIME Magazine as, “Curiously moving metal sculptures that gambol and gimbal in the wind.”
George Rickey, Two Lines Up-Spread, 1971, Stainless steel, H: 384 inches, Gift of the LBMA Museum Association 1971
Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) developed an artistic vocabulary of her own. Throughout her life, continuity and change, space and matter, and junctures between moving points laid the backdrop for each exploration, each commission. One of the most important figures in post-war American art, she created “living” artworks—lines, points, and objects appearing to exist in continuum through space. The Point as a Set #16 is part of a larger series that marked a pivotal shift in Falkenstein’s artistic career. This series, varying in expression “from happy, open, curving lyricism to ominous, closed, hard-edged density,” noted Falkenstein in a statement to the Tate Gallery in 1981, refer to mathematics and in tandem, a connection to the natural world. The Point as a Set #16 was purchased by the LBMA Museum Association and unveiled to the public on Wednesday, June 16, 1965.
The Point as a Set #16, 1965, Copper tubing and venetian glass, H: 36 W: 36 Diam: 36 inches, Gift of the LBMA Museum Association 1965
Norman Hines (1939-2016) moved to Ponoma, CA at the age of 17 to study English at Pomona College. In the latter half of his undergraduate studies, Hines’ heightened interest in art led him to further study at Claremont Graduate University. His works, varying ceramics, marble, granite carvings, kinetic metal sculptures, bronze platters, bowls, and life-cast still life sculptures are held in collections and installations worldwide. Untitled, on view at LBMA is carved from a singular solid block of marble. Likened to the curvature of a whale or contour of a natural landscape, the piece reflects Hines’ eye for form, and form in response to different material.
Norman Hines, Untitled, 1980, Marble, H: 24 W: 46 Diam: 18 inches, Gift of Dr. Selden and Sheriden Beebe 2000
Life in the Pacific. These words used by Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) in accompaniment of Flora Fauna’s presentation to the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1966, appeal to the sculpture’s undulating topography. From Sierras to rolling hills, to the cliff edge and Joshua trees—the California coast blooms abundant with perennials, succulents, and wildlife. The surface of Bertoia’s sculpture creates the illusion of a continuous surface. Each point is one of hundreds of bronze rods emanating from a central core like poppies bursting into season. The artist, sound sculptor and designer widely remembered for the ergonomic mid-century modern chairs he designed alongside the likes of Charles and Ray Eames, was profoundly interested in the manipulation of metal and space. His sculptural work, much to the likes of Flora Fauna, are often fluid, organic clusters of vertical rods designed to sway and hiss and hum. Drape your hand over the surface and listen to the celestial symphony of waves crashing, wind humming and birds singing across the Pacific.
Harry Bertoia, Flora Fauna, 1964, Bronze, H: 66 W: 31 Diam: 22 inches, Gift of the LBMA Museum Association 1966
Born in Bozeman, Montana, Peter Voulkos (1924-2002) was introduced to clay at Montana State College where he studied under the G.I. Bill after WWII. Years on in 1954, Voulkos moved to Long Beach to start as chairman of the new ceramics department at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. His pottery studio attracted widespread attention from artists and collectors, and subsequently launched him as a leader of the Los Angeles clay movement. Artists John Mason, Ken Price, and Billy Al Benston were amongst this group who followed Voulkos to Los Angeles. His career pushed the boundaries of the medium; his relationships with Franz Kline and other abstract expressionists encouraged his move away from traditional ceramics and toward sculptural, expressive and monumental works.
In 1959, Voulkos became a professor of design and sculpture at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB). Here began another shift––this time away from clay and towards metal in order to create larger work with forms that projected into space. The following decades saw Voulkos move back and forth between metal and clay, from small vessels to works of grand scale. Solea is constructed from copper nickel bronze tubing, monel, and at its highest point, two biomorphic shapes of manganese and aluminium bronze. Voulkos made the moulds and cast the metals himself in Artworks Foundry located in Oakland, California. The foundry which still exists today, was founded by Voulkos and faculty of UCB in 1986.
Peter Voulkos, Solea, 1968, Metal, H: 120 W: 78 Diam: 48 inches, Gift of the LBMA Museum Association 1968
Currently working in Athens, Ohio, Matt Wedel’s practice is a reflection of his relationship to the medium, clay and memory, notably with his father’s ceramics growing up in Palisade, Colorado. The medium is a nostalgic vehicle for his imagination and memories to communicate and exist through the sculptured object to the viewer. In addition, its malleability gives an immediacy to his ideas as the sculpted work unfolds in the studio, a pace similar to how he creates and thinks.
Wedel states, “In the work that I think of as my own, I am creating figures of children, stylised flowers, rocks and animals. This work doesn’t portray one specific narrative but occasionally suggests smaller narratives within an individual or cluster of pieces.”
Matt Wedel, Flower Tree, 2008, Ceramic, H: 74 W: 41 Diam: 40 inches, Museum purchase with funds provided by Tim Orchard and Clifton Stewart 2008
Patrick Dougherty’s site-specific willow installation at the Long Beach Museum of Art Buddy Buddy is the culmination of countless hours scouting, harvesting, and working with local volunteers, Museum staff and Docents. The artist intricately weaves and assembles hundreds of harvested willow saplings on-site to create monumental, earthly sculptures. The three-day harvesting of the willow consisted of cutting, baling, and transporting vast amounts of the material from Lone Pine, California to the Museum’s campus. Combined with the artist’s love of nature and his mastery of ancient building techniques, the complexity and metaphysical nature of these forms dwell not only in the natural material and the structure themselves, but also in its accessibility where audiences can engage with and bear witness to the work’s life cycle. “Making sculpture comprehendible” as Dougherty says, has consistently been his vision since the inception of this body of work.
Patrick Dougherty, Buddy Buddy, 2019, Willow, H: 15; Footprint, W: 60, Diam: 12 feet, Generously sponsored in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance 2019
Bordalo II (b. 1987), born Artur Bordalo in Lisbon, Portugal created Plastic Seal in 2018 on LBMA’s campus during Vitality & Verve III: Transforming the Urban Landscape. His canvas is his environment; his medium, our waste. Toy cars, playgrounds, trash cans, hoses, metal scraps, tires—items kept only for a moment, and left to rot in landfills and oceans for many lifetimes. Plastic Seal, made from found “garbage” in and around Long Beach, overlooks the Pacific with pause. This work, among his greater body of sculptures created from the result of excessive consumption, question society’s behaviors and subsequent impact on the natural environment.
Bordalo II, Plastic Seal, 2018, Spray paint, recycled plastics, H: 108 W: 243 Diam: 84 inches
In 1958, Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) spent a year living, working and teaching in San Francisco, California following eight years in France. During this time, she had two feature exhibitions, one at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the other at Bolles Gallery. George Culler, the then director at SFMOMA asked Falkenstein to lead a cultural tour for friends of the Museum in France. Among the small group Falkenstein toured through Paris and Nice—meeting with the likes of Giocometti and Jean Renoir, were five residents of Long Beach, namely Dallas Conklin of the Press Telegram and the Buffum family of Buffums Retail. Upon saying goodbyes in France, Dallas Conklin asked Claire to make a piece for the entrance of her new home. This commission along with a second for the Buffums, eventually brought Falkenstein ‘home’ to California by the early 1960s. Sign of the Pacific was completed for Conklin’s home entrance, and in 2012 it was added to the Long Beach Museum of Art permanent collection.
Claire Falkenstein, Sign of the Pacific, 1960, Copper tubing and venetian glass, H: 120 W: 96 Diam: 11 inches, Gifted in memory of Ellie and Frank Pearson 2012
In 1962, Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) moved to Los Angeles, California from France, where she spent the greater part of a decade living and working. With more space to create, Falkenstein began thinking and working on a larger scale. The first pieces were fountains; the construction challenged both the form and function. The structure and flow. Unlike traditional fountains where water jets predisposed from a shape, the copper tubing of Falkenstein’s sculptures act as both water carrier and foundation, creating a dynamic flow of water up, down, and around the piping.
Structure and Flow was commissioned by Dr. Louis Heyn for his home in the Hollywood Hills in 1968. The sculpture took Falkenstein two years to construct, and on completion Heyn gifted the work to the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1971. Weighing between 4,500 and 6,000 pounds, Structure and Flow is one of Falkenstein’s grandest accomplishments. In 1972, Dr. Heyn wrote in a letter to the Long Beach City Council, “Falkenstein’s unique and highly significant contribution to contemporary creative art is her concept of structure and flow, wherein, in the instance of this particular work, the moving water becomes an intrinsic part of the sculptural form of the pieces, and this is nowhere more fully developed nor more beautifully executed than in this work.”
Claire Falkenstein, Structure and Flow, 1971, Copper tubing and venetian glass, H: 168 W: 264 Diam: 264 inches, Gift of Dr. Louis L. Heyn 1972
Rasbora—the genus for nearly 45 species of schooling freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia and Africa are slender, petite and harlequin in nature. Woods Davy’s (b. 1949) gravity-defying totem of natural stones collected from the sea and earth, share their delicate and fluid figure. Rasbora is as much a celestial object, as it is the tide rising and waves churning. Davy engages with raw materials without notion to alter or define them. A stone is a stone—an organic formation carved from generations of sea, sun, wind and change. His compositions accede to the materials’ inherent histories and as a result, find harmony between their found state and his own exploration of topography and geology.
Woods Davy, Rasbora, 2002, Granite, H: 69 W: 33 Diam: 20 inches, Gift of the Estate of Wilfred Davis Fletcher 2018
The Long Beach Museum of Art’s sculpture garden is made possible by a major emergency grant from the RuMBa Foundation of Long Beach.