Austin's Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum Celebrates 25 Year Anniversary and Takes On Ambitious Plans for the Future

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A never seen before collection of Charles Umlauf sculpture is on display at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport through May 17, 2016, welcoming millions of passersby to SXSW, Spring Break and beyond. An epic spring Garden Party is planned for Thursday, April 28 and plans to bridge the personal home and working studio of Charles Umlauf to the museum grounds have begun, kicking off with a 25th Anniversary Exhibition at the sculpture museum which recreates portions of the sculptor's studio with interactive sets and hands-on experiences.

Charles Umlauf: Family. Photo Credit Studio Uma.

Family, 1960 bronze sculpture by Charles Umlauf sets the tone for annual spring Garden Party on the grounds of the museum.

"We are delighted to lay groundwork for a bright future and are embarking on ambitious plans to raise the much needed dollars for our Master Plan Project." --Nina Seely, Executive Director

The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum, a commemoration of the life and work of sculptor Charles Umlauf, provides an important and vital presence for both Austin and the national arts community. Consequently, it’s with pleasure that the Museum announces its 25th anniversary of the eight-acre “jewel in the heart of Austin” in 2016. In a city that is experiencing tremendous growth, a new century-long lease between the City of Austin and the Museum underscores Austin’s commitment to the arts and at the same time recognizes its need for public funding. The Museum’s location at one of the most vital and valuable intersections in the city — the corner of Barton Springs and Robert E. Lee – has given the UMLAUF a prominent position for the City’s future plans along Barton Springs in the next 5-10 years.

Charles Umlauf (1910 – 1994) was a highly successful American sculpture artist who incorporated important European abstract influences into his wide-ranging, evocative work. For four decades, beginning in 1941, he taught art at the University of Texas (Austin) and subsequently donated his property, house, studio and hundreds of artworks to the City. Thus, the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum was born, and twenty-five years later, an Anniversary Exhibition titled The Studio in the Museum will be on display from April 22 through October 16, which will offer visitors a look at work areas from Umlauf’s actual studio – plus an interactive section that takes visitors through the sculptural process and offers a hands on exploration of objects such as sculpting tools and Umlauf’s sketchbooks. Visitors to Austin by way of Austin Bergstrom International Airport will also get a taste of UMLAUF thanks to an exhibit at the Airport on display Feb 17 through May 17 titled From the Vault: Celebrating the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum’s 25th Anniversary. Monumental additions to the sculpture museum grounds this year include two 13 ½ foot tall cast stone sculptures on long-term loan from the San Antonio Museum of Art titled Mother and Child and Father and Son (both 1962). These sculptures have graced the entrance of San Antonio’s Witte Museum for 50 years. Additionally, an ongoing show, Jesús Moroles: A Tribute, will run through March 13. The Museum’s famous Garden Party is slated for April 28 to highlight celebrations surrounding the anniversary and visitors will enjoy seeing works from University of Texas art students when the UMLAUF Prize exhibition and 25th Anniversary Retrospective is on display in October.

Importantly, fundraising events such as Garden Party will help provide much needed dollars toward the implementation of a “Master Plan” that includes joining the two-acre property where Umlauf’s original studio is located to the existing six-acre garden far below it via a stairway or tower structure that will allow visitors to negotiate the property’s steep incline. Every visit to the gardens offer an aesthetic experience — which experts now believe improves both mental and physical health — while simultaneously providing support for exciting and important changes. During this crucial period, Carla Umlauf, one of the artist’s grandchildren, will serve as President of the Board. Importantly, she knows firsthand how valuable the intersection of art and nature is when it comes to cultivating psychological and intellectual wellbeing. “I played there as a child and I’m convinced that it’s a vitally important experience for everyone in Austin and beyond,” she states. “I see my new role as one of preserving a legacy, but also shaping people’s lives by making sure that the center serves as a model, an example, that other cities will seek to emulate.”

Nina Seely, Executive Director of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum, urges both individuals and corporate entities to join in the effort to continue the Umlauf tradition. She states: “Open to the public six days a week, we enthusiastically welcome guests of all ages to stroll the grounds, to touch, feel and admire the more than fifty works of art currently on display in the Garden. The museum has proven to be an invaluable asset to the arts community — and we are delighted to lay groundwork for a bright future. Moreover, we are embarking on ambitious plans to raise the much needed dollars for our Master Plan Project through donations, sponsorships and membership drives from individuals and companies alike.”

Seely invites donors to send contributions to: donna.daugherty(at)umlaufsculpture(dot)org. For more information, call 512-445-5582 x102.

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Darlene Fiske
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