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Nov 28th
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In Bloom

ae_Richard StarkSculpture springs from the gardens of Sierra Azul
Hunched guard dogs made of river rocks take fluid shape at each side of a grassy entrance; behind them, a giant fish stands on its nose, glinting multicolored in the light. Beyond is the garden—as magical a landscape as man and nature can devise. The gardens of Watsonville’s Sierra Azul Nursery have sprouted their spring crop of sculpture, becoming a dazzling demonstration of the friendly annual creative competition between nature and man.

Over six years of maturation, Sculpture Is has become one of the most anticipated annual exhibitions in the Monterey Bay region, this year featuring 56 Northern Californian artists and 135 sculptures in widely diverse styles and media, placed within the now-mature plantings of the two-acre Mediterranean gardens in Watsonville’s agricultural outskirts.

Sculpture Is is run by the ever-adventurous Pajaro Valley Arts Council, and was conceived by Sierra Azul owner and PVAC president Jeff Rosendale. The nursery purchases at least one piece each year for permanent exhibition in the garden, which is how exquisite works like Paul Cheney’s woven metal shield from the first exhibition seem have become an integral part of the ecology.

Kirk McNeill’s towering tour de force of rusted steel balances the bulk of a giant heavy orb with impossibly fluid filigrees of undulating kelp and fish—a window into the floating world of “Mooring Buoy #30.” This fantasy sprouts among the sage near the garden entrance where a pair of Michael Eckerman’s boulder-made “Guard Dogs” keeps nobody away. Meanwhile the stainless steel mobiles of Moto Ohtake gyre and spin against the sky like busy, shining insects.

Liver-colored Smoke Trees vie for attention with their delicate “Inflorescence” spreading around dense leafy clusters like the blur of wet watercolor while giant aloes explode with skyscraper-high flower spikes. They’re taller than Aaron Van de Kerckhove’s two-story steel “Lookout Tower,” whose open door invites playful visitors to pause in the cool knotty-pine interior, or climb to the railing-lined heights for an eye-to-eye with the nests in the adjacent cluster of eucalyptus.

Underfoot, soft pathways suddenly erupt in lizards wiggling over shoes and under Carole DePalma’s joyful ceramic totems, while birds in paradise compete for air time, warbling symphonically among the rose bowers, or perched on LMNO Arts’ steel window frame fantasies. Ceramic tree clusters by Susana Arias decline to shade the new growth of giant celadon asparagus shoots by Sylvia Rios while, above our heads, the stainless steel “Pacific Swimmer” by Mandy Spitzer demonstrates perfect form.

Sculpture Is continues through Oct. 31 at Sierra Azul Nursery & Garden, 2660 East Lake Ave., Watsonville. Sierraazul.com.


Maureen Davidson writes about the arts as “The Exhibitionist.” This column and her radio spot and blog at KUSP.org/exhibitionist are funded in part by a grant from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County.

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Giving Thanks: The Thought-Form of Solution

We are in the time and under the influence of Sagittarius, sign of the wanderer, good food, good music, and the joy (Jupiter as ruler) that occurs from giving to others while simultaneously giving thanks from our hearts. Having the Thanksgiving holiday during the month of Sag is not a mistake. No other sign understands joy (an aspect of the Soul) as Sag (except Pisces when not in despair). “Sag is a beam of directed and focused light. The beam reveals a greater light ahead, illuminating the Way to the center of the Light,” emitting the Ray of Joyfulness. Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude; in the form of prayers, thoughts, feelings, wishes, hopes and greetings. Gratitude is something we still need to learn. Gratitude creates goodwill. Together, gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution” for humanity and our world’s problems. Gratitude and goodwill are the prerequisites for the reappearance of the Christ, the Aquarian World Teacher. In Ancient Wisdom texts it is written, “being grateful is the hallmark of one who is enlightened.” Gratitude comes from the Soul—the characteristics of which are love and wisdom (Ray 2). Gratitude is scientifically and occultly (mental, not emotional) a releasing agent. Gratitude liberates us and everything around us. Also a service to others, gratitude is deeply scientific in nature, releasing us from the past and laying open our future path leading to the new culture and civilization, the new laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarian, the Age of Friendship and Equality. The Hierarchy lays much emphasis upon gratitude. Let us be grateful this year and this season together. And so now the days of light illuminating the darkness begin (December’s festivals and feast days). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for all of you, my readers.

 

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