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 BRAVO, SAN ANTONIO WOMAN | JULY/AUG 2004  (large Images are loading).

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A New Cultural Star in the Texas Hill Country

The cultural map of Texas is adding another star, and this time in the Texas Hill Country.

On a ranch near Johnson City, Italian artist Benini has established a stronghold for the arts, an oasis of culture in this golden, semi-desert land. Huge sculptures stand, hang and project upward amidst oak and cedar trees and tall grasses. An enormous hangar building showcases national and international artwork. 

President Lyndon Johnson once owned this land. His retreat was on the highest outlook, Rattlesnake Mountain, where now Benini’s contemporary cedar and stone house with tall windows overlooks the panoramic view.

Benini exhibits his paintings here and abroad, usually at universities, museums and public institutions, with 160 one-man shows to date. For the last four years, however, all production has taken place in the Hill Country.

“My work is driven by color,” Benini said. He painted roses for more than 20 years, and in sizes up to 30 feet – free floating, and interacting on canvas with human figures. In the early ‘90s’s, he turned to geometric shapes, first simple cubes, then triangles and spheres. He paints with acrylics on canvas stretched over aluminum. As the shapes become more animated, starts, twisting ribbons and seemingly dimensional pieces create a free-form dance.

“They have a Space Age feel. And yet at the same time, a timelessness…a universality,” one visitor to the ranch commented.  “They make me want to whisper.” 

Benini’s work of the last year has shot off into a totally new direction, and now the exotic colors are like fireworks on freestanding paintings. These, as well as artwork of guest artists from Italy and America, are on display in the 14,000 – square-foot Studios Building at Le Stelle and can be seen free of charge by appointment. To date, 21 large-scale sculptures have been installed by national and international artists on the surrounding grounds and are also open for tours. 

(left) Benini, 2000, 88" x 26"
Acrylics on canvas on aluminum.
(below) The studio building at The Benini Foundation & Sculpture Ranch.


Two of the first sculptors were Cunningham and Eyfells, both successful artists who are relocation to the Hill Country. Eyfells, an Icelandic sculptor, is establishing a major facility for culture between Johnson City and Fredericksburg. At 80 years of age, Eyfells has amassed an impressive inventory of his work and paintings and sculpture of his wife, Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells. To date, he has shipped 170 tons of sculpture and plans to begin installation on his ranch 17 miles from Benini’s Le Stelle in midsummer. He too will welcome art lovers and students to his facility. 

For further information, contact The Benini Foundation and Sculpture Ranch at 830-868-5244 or visit online at www.Benini.com.

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CONTACT: 

The Benini Foundation Galleries and Sculpture Ranch | 377 Shiloh Road | Johnson City, Texas USA 78636
830-868-5244 Studios Building | 830-868-5224 Studios Building | 830-868-2247

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