This morning I met Dianne, Ginger, Inge and Virginia at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden (www.umlaufsculpture.org). Since it's so close to where I live, I just walked over there. The weather was perfect for such an outing.
First, we had a very interesting introduction by the Docent and then a video. We learned that the garden features more than 130 sculptures by Charles Umlauf, as well as his drawings and paintings. His sculptures range from detailed realism to lyrical abstractions in many different media: exotic woods, terra cotta, cast stone, bronze, alabaster and luminous marbles. In a number of his works, the hands are over-sized to indicate strength of character.
Charles Julius Umlauf was born near South Haven, Michigan, in 1911, to French and German immigrant parents. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago School of Sculpture. In 1937, he married Angeline Allen, a fellow student at the Art Institute.
In 1941, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where Charles had agreed to join the new art department at the University of Texas as a sculpture instructor. He taught there for 40 years, retiring as professor emeritus in 1981. In Texas, there are more of his sculptures in public placements than work by any other single sculptor.
In 1985, he and his wife gave their home, studio and 168 pieces of Umlauf sculpture to the City of Austin. Six years later, in 1991, a new museum was built on adjoining city property with private funds. He died in Austin in 1994. His widow, now in her late 90s, still lives in the house.
During his career, Umlauf was awarded nearly every professional award, including both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Grant. In Texas, he was honored in 1985 by the Houston Art League as "Texas Artist of the Year" and in 1993 by the City of San Antonio as "Alcalde."
After our tour of the gardens, we went to Shady Grove for lunch.