IN CELEBRATION OF 25 YEARS, THE UMLAUF SCULPTURE GARDEN & MUSEUM BREATHES LIFE INTO STILLNESS WITH “STUDIO IN THE MUSEUM: AN INTERACTIVE RECREATION OF CHARLES UMLAUF’S STUDIO”
Since 1994 Charles Umlauf’s studio has remained virtually untouched – a pair of Wrangler jeans hangs from a hook, a handwritten inventory of sculpture is tacked to the bathroom wall, and sculpting tools fill the airy space where this consummate artist created masterpieces until his death at the age of 84 in 1994. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum, a special exhibition to showcase this hidden gem, titled Studio in the Museum: An Interactive Recreation of Charles Umlauf’s Studio, on display April 22 – October 16, 2016, offers visitors a rare glimpse inside the working mind of Umlauf.
The Museum’s hope however, is that this rare glimpse becomes an everyday occurrence for visitors in the future as the UMLAUF’s creates a Master Plan that will share the vision of the entire 8 acre property and bridge the Umlauf’s private garden and studio on the hill to the existing garden below.
Charles Umlauf (1910-1994) lived on the bluff adjacent to the museum for fifty years with his wife Angeline and their six children. In 1956, he built a large studio overlooking Barton Springs Road and downtown. In 1985 Charles and Angie donated their home, his studio, and 168 sculptures to the City of Austin. The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum opened to the public in 1991.
To create this ambitious exhibition, UMLAUF Curator Katie Robinson Edwards has been collaborating for more than a year with set designer Stephanie Busing and sculptor Nimer Aleck, part of the Experience Design and Build team. Offering a hybrid of original and interactive areas, the show features a 21-foot illustrated timeline highlighting key moments from Umlauf’s life and work, including his decades of casting in Italy (such as the life-altering 1961 Spirit of Flight fountain commission at Dallas Love Field), his encounter with Pope John XXIII, and his lifelong friendship with former UT sculpture student and eventual muse, Farrah Fawcett.
“This ambitious show will be on view for six months—it’s really the cornerstone of our 25th Anniversary celebration,” say Nina Seely, the UMLAUF’s Executive Director.
The Studio in the Museum exhibition highlights Charles Umlauf’s creative process from concept to creation. One section of the show displays the first stage: his sketches. At the end of the gallery, three videos behind three sculptures in various stages carry viewers through the lost-wax bronze casting process Umlauf used. Visitors also have the opportunity to try out their sculpting skills and create a portrait of Charles Umlauf in clay. The heart of the exhibition consists of two built-in vignettes of original tools, workbench, drafting table, sculpture stands, and artwork pulled directly from Umlauf’s actual studio. “Our hope is to give visitors of all ages—from those who know little about Umlauf to those who frequent the Garden regularly—a chance to see why he was one of the 20th century’s greatest sculptors. And by following a single artist’s process, we all gain better insight into the creative process in general,” says UMLAUF Curator Edwards.
In conjunction with this special exhibition, the UMLAUF will present two Insights talks that more deeply explore Umlauf’s practice. In July, the Experience Design and Build team of Stephanie Busing and Nimer Aleck will discuss their preparations and process for building the studio and interactive areas. As part of the closing celebration in October, artist and art professor Thomas Motley will give an in-depth illustrated discussion of Umlauf’s drawings, the basis for all his art.