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Art goes outdoors in new garden exhibit

Horticulture and art have once again come together at the San Diego Botanic Garden for its fifth annual Sculpture in the Garden outdoor exhibition, on view now through April 15, 2013. This year’s exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Dennis Batt, a longtime supporter of the arts in San Diego.

Curated for three consecutive years by Naomi Nussbaum, principal of Naomi Nussbaum Art & Design, the exhibition includes 40 sculptural works, almost all of which were created by San Diego artists. All of the featured works are available for purchase.

“Delicate Balance” by Mary Buckman created in hydrostone cement. Photo courtesy of Heather Main

Nussbaum explains that opportunities for the public to view outdoor sculpture in San Diego are limited. She feels that giving local sculptors a beautiful environment in which to showcase their work is an invaluable aspect of this exhibition and a wonderful gift to the public.

Nussbaum says of the 37-acre garden, “This is a magnificent venue to display sculpture. Depending on the work, we thoughtfully seek out a location that resonates with the artwork and vice versa.” The garden contains 28 distinctive environments in which 3,300 varieties of plants thrive.

Nussbaum has selected a variety of works appealing to a wide range of aesthetic tastes. Visitors are in for a visual treat, which begins before entering the parking area. A stunning, nearly 12-foot abstract stainless steel and bronze sculpture by Alber De Matteis, titled “Ascent,” welcomes approaching guests.

Other abstract works in the exhibition include those by artists Matt Devine, Dan Peragine, Luna Matteis, John McDavid, Jerry Dumlao, Ben Lavender, Jon Koehler and Charles Bronson. Kinetic sculptures include those by Moto Ohtake, Jeffrey Laudenslager, and Amos Robinson.

Upon entering the Australian Garden, Matt Devine’s brilliant red “Twelve Hundred Degrees” commands attention as its clean, minimalist curves stand nearly 8 feet tall beside the perfect foil of richly textured melaleuca branches.

By contrast, visitors in the Canary Islands Garden will find Mary Buckman’s figurative nature totem “Delicate Balance” surrounded by the lacy foliage of a verdant thicket. Sculpted of pigmented cement, the woodland sprite seems to have recently emerged from the protective forest.

Other figurative pieces included in the exhibition were created by Lynn Forbes, Victoria Johnson, Madelynne Engle and Cheryl Tall.

Further down the path, the Hamilton Children’s Garden is the perfect setting for playful sculptures by Zjhunk Metal Art, Amos Robinson and Jon Rawlinson.

Diana Goforth, education and events coordinator for the gardens, announces an exciting weekend festival Garden Expressions of Art, featuring 25 artists working in a variety of media, which is scheduled for Aug. 11 and Aug. 12.

Detailed maps of the sculpture sites are available at the main entrance for casual self-guided tours along the four miles of garden trails. Docent tours are regularly scheduled on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and are free with admission. Group tours can also be arranged in advance by calling the garden at (760) 436-3036.

Additional information about the exhibition and participating artists, other art-related programs, and photos of each of the individual sculptures are available at

Kay Colvin is an art consultant and director of the L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. She specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists and bringing enrichment programs to elementary schools through The Kid’s College. Contact her at [email protected].