Athens Review, Athens, Texas

April 23, 2013

Tour of sculptured art

Open house, gardens of creative masterpieces highlight weekend event

Lyn Dunsavage young
The Athens Review

Athens — For about a quarter of a century, the “Sunken Gardens” of the Bartlett House, a historic “ruin” in Malakoff,  have been overgrown and covered in debris, much like the Bartlett House itself.

For the first time, the renovated “Sunken Gardens” will be unveiled to the public at a free open house April 27-28, as part of the East Texas Art and Sculpture Gardens’ Tour in Malakoff.  Wear comfortable shoes.  The properties are not handicapped-accessible.

The other two sculpture gardens on the tour, The James Surls Sculpture Garden and James & Barbara Stewart’s Sculpture Gardens, require a ticket for admission. Tickets can be acquired online at www.malakofftexas.com or at the Malakoff Community Center

As part of the celebration of the resurrection of the Sunken Gardens well-known in the 1930s and 1940s for their beauty, several of the best East Texas artists who were selected to be in the book published for the tour will be showing in the heritage gardens surrounding the Bartlett House.

Bill Williamson, a fast sketch artist, will be available to draw pictures of visitors for donations to the Historic Bartlett House and Heritage Gardens.  Williamson is a sculptor who spent his professional career working with and in-zoos creating the backdrops, scenery and sculpted elements that comprise the animal exhibits.

Two outstanding artists who will be showing in the Bartlett House gardens – open to the public at no cost – will be Jan G. Blackmon, FAIA,  and Craig D. Blackmon, FAIA.  They are abstract sculptors and photographers who recently won two consecutive Best in Show awards in the Main Street Galley in downtown Tyler.  Craig is an extraordinary photographer whose architectural photographs have been published in magazines and books nationally.

Robert English, from Tool, also plans to be showing his realistic sculptures in which he thematically focuses on country and ballet subjects, both in appreciation of the expression in the human face and body.

Four artists from Athens plan to show, including Christie Barrett, Cheryl Hicks, Celene Terry, and Deborah Wood.

Margo Stamp and Lou Albright from Ben Wheeler also plan to show in the Bartlett House gardens.

On the ticketed portion of the tour will be two other sculpture gardens.  The James Surls Sculpture Garden: A Memorial to Joe Surls, will have four of the five nationally-renowned sculptors present to meet with visitors: James Surls, George Tobolowsky, Bill Wiener and Polly Smart. The James Surls’ gardens are gaining national attention because it is the largest concentration of James Surls’ early art, with over 40 pieces on the property,  and also this year and next, will feature major new sculptures by Surls, Tobolowsky, Wiener and Charmaine Locke.

A dinner/talk Saturday night featuring the Surls’ nationally-prominent artists will be discussing their work with dinner guests in the Malakoff Community Center.  Reservations are required (www.malakofftexas.com).  Seating is limited.

James and Barbara Stewart’s private Sculpture Gardens located on Cedar Creek Lake will also be open in Malakoff.  Winner of the “Best Texas Residential Landscape,” their gardens feature sculptures by numerous nationally-prominent sculptors Glenna Goodacre, W. Stanley Proctor, Gary Lee Price, David Pearson, Walt Horton, Terry Jones and Jo Saylors.

Ticket and book sales receipts go to the Greater Malakoff Area Garden Club, which owns the Historic Bartlett House and Heritage Gardens to restore the property.

Contact Lyn Dunsavage Young for additional information at 817-366-7138, or e-mail ldunsavage@gmail.com