New Cultural Star in the Texas Hill Country
cultural map of Texas is adding another star, and this time in the Texas
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
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.
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
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
(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
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