Santa Cruz County’s stunning natural environment has inspired several fantastic outdoor art galleries, open to wander in some of the most beautiful months of the year.
Every year since 2006, one of this area’s most popular outdoor exhibits happens in Watsonville at the Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens. Serving the community as retail center and oasis, Sierra Azul showcases a large selection of local sculptures on view from June through the end of October.
Sculpture Is: 2017 “In the Garden”, is the 11th sculpture exhibit produced by Pajaro Valley Arts Council (PVAC) in partnership with the Sierra Azul Nursery. PVAC opened their gallery in 1986, and presents rotating visual art exhibitions in their Watsonville gallery as well as satellite locations. Sculpture Is began as an extension of a seven-week exhibit held at the PVAC gallery. To accommodate larger pieces, Sierra Azul owners, Jeff and Lisa Rosendale, offered to host exhibits in the expansive setting of their demonstration gardens.
Over the years, Sculpture Is has presented more than 500 sculptures by California artists, curated and juried by volunteers from the creative community. The 2017 show has been arranged by Hedwig Heerschop and juried by Susana Arias, Jeff Rosendale, and Judy Stabile, who have worked collaboratively to bring attention to diverse local artists and valuable natural resources.
For the 2017 show, over ninety sculptures are on display in the two-acre demonstration gardens. The work represents a range of medias, including steel, wood, ceramics, bronze, glass, and concrete. The experience of coming across the many imaginative sculptures set throughout Sierra Azul’s vibrant landscape is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.
The sculptures are installed in spring and exhibited for five months. As the seasons change and gardens grow, the plant life and artwork seem to merge and bring new meaning to each other. When the Sierra Azul gardens were planted around twenty years ago, Rosendale designed the landscape to support bee and butterfly habitats, native and Mediterranean plants, and water conservation. The result is a thriving environment that looks and smells incredible.
Admission is free to wander Sierra Azul and view the sculptures. A billboard and art handbook guide visitors around the gardens, and each sculpture is marked with information about the work and artist.