.Ephemeral Sculpture at Montalvo’s ‘Garden’ Party

'Rock the Garden' returns to the Montalvo Art Center with '5 Hour Sculpture'

NATURAL BEAUTY: Paper mache animal masks by Sasha Petrenko, one of the artists showing work at this year’s “Rock the Garden” festival.

As captivating as the works may be, those attending this Friday’s “pop-up arts festival” at Montalvo Art Center would do well to resist becoming too attached to any of the pieces. After all, at the end of the night, they will all be torn down—faster than they were even created.

The theme of this year’s “Rock the Garden” festival, “5 Hour Sculpture,” is pretty self-explanatory. The Montalvo Arts Center has invited artists from around the world to come to Villa Montalvo, where they will create temporary installments on the 175-acre grounds of the historic Saratoga estate. They will have just five hours to complete and show their works.

The idea, according to Montalvo’s curator, Donna Conwell, is to highlight how monumental even a short span of time can be. It is also intended to get people thinking about how the ostensibly permanent structures and monuments surrounding us are not immune to the passage of time.

“Setting ourselves a time limit of five hours allows us to turn that thinking on its head, and explore the way that contemporary sculpture—especially where it overlaps with other disciplines—can be quite the opposite: temporal, ephemeral and participatory,” Conwell says.

Conwell developed the the theme. And, after posing the question to 60 international artists—”If you only had five hours to present a work of sculpture in a public park, what would you create?”—she sat on the jury that selected the winning pitches.

Only the most creative answers were chosen, and favor was given to those ideas that included an element of public participation. Attendees will have the chance to harvest pinwheels, tell stories around a virtual campfire and navigate a labyrinth, among other activities.

Many of the chosen artists hail from the Bay Area, including Natasha Carlitz of Menlo Park and Karrie Hovey of Mill Valley. Others come from elsewhere in the country. Margaret Camp is from Los Angeles and Matthias Neumann is from Brooklyn. Máximo González will make the trek from Mexico City.

Leah Ammon, associate director of marketing for Montalvo, notes that former Senator James Duval Phelan—the man who built Villa Montalvo and specified that it should become a public park upon his death—would likely have enjoyed the festival. “Senator Phelan loved a good party,” she says.—Melissa Hartman

Rock The Garden: 5 Hour Sculpture
Jul 22, 5pm, Free
Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga


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