Renew your spirit with a spring visit to these Bay Area sculpture gardens
A visit to a sculpture garden offers a breath of fresh air,both in the literal sense and the figurative one. It's a chance toenjoy the outdoors while seeing how artists interpret our nativelandscape. In the Bay Area, sculpture garden experiences range froman Oakland refuge that is great for a lunch break to a guided tourof top-notch California art on a Napa Valley farm. So clear yourschedule, clear your mind, and head out to be refreshed.
Di Rosa Preserve
Newspaperman Rene di Rosa's family estate has been turned intothe nonprofit home of a near-unrivaled collection of California andBay Area contemporary art. Inside the house, there's art on everypossible inch of wall space, including the ceiling, while outside,the sculpture park beckons with views of neighboring wineries.
NOT TO BE MISSED: Mark di Suvero's large-scale red steelabstract work in the back field is like pickup sticks and hulahoops in a blender.
QUIRKY FAVORITES: The world's tallest file cabinet. SamYates stacked 15 four-drawer cabinets on top of each other - acomment on the burden of paperwork? On your way out, be sure toturn your attention to the property's lake and Veronica di Rosa's Endless Summer - a polychrome steel cow that looks as ifit's grazing right on the water.
DETAILS: Tours Tue-Sat (reserve in advance); $12. www.dirosapreserve.orgor (707) 226-5991.
Oakland Museum of California Sculpture Garden
This oasis of tranquility overlooks Lake Merritt and theAlameda County Courthouse. Sculptures are tucked in among a seriesof outdoor terraces and stairways, so there's always another pieceto be discovered around the bend. A good spot for a relaxing lunchbreak.
NOT TO BE MISSED: Bay Area ceramist Viola Frey's massive9-foot-tall businessman, painted in broad, voluptuous strokes ofblue, green, and yellow.
QUIRKY FAVORITES: Michael Todd's welded-steel circle,square, and round tube painted canary yellow, with a view of boatson the lake in the distance. Also, Susan Leibovitz Steinman'sshopping cart piled high with wire bicycle wheels.
DETAILS: Gardens open Wed-Sun; free. www.museumca.org or (510)238-2200.
The B. Gerald Cantor Rodin SculptureGarden, Stanford University
Adjacent to Stanford's art museum, this calm, formal space isdedicated to the work of French artist Auguste Rodin. Broad gravelpathways shaded by elegantly lean shrubbery wind among 20 massivebronzes of the human form in motion.
NOT TO BE MISSED: The Gates of Hell. Rodin worked on this immense doorwaythroughout his late career but never saw it completed. After hisdeath, his molds were finally cast in bronze.
QUIRKY FAVORITE: The Walking Man, in which Rodin shows the progression ofenergy in a single step, with one leg much longer than the otherand all the muscles clearly delineated.
DETAILS: Free tours 2 p.m. Wed, 11:30 a.m. Sat, and 3 p.m. Sun.Self-guided visits anytime. www.stanford.edu/dept/ccvaor (650) 723-4177.
Djerassi Resident Artists Program
The works that dot this stunning landscape of rolling greenhills and redwood trees are viewable only on guided walking tours,which run April through October. Most of the art has been createdby the Djerassi Program's artists-in-residence, and many piecesmake use of materials found at the preserve - redwood stumps,madrone branches, and even the earth itself.
NOT TO BE MISSED: Patrick Dougherty's St. Denis' Tower, a 25-foot-tall outdoor temple wovenentirely of willow branches. Step inside and gaze upward throughthe lattice to the sky.
QUIRKY FAVORITE: Small cartoon figurines clustered atop ared fence post by local artist Heather Wilcoxon.
DETAILS: Half-day and 2 1/2-hour tours offered on selecteddates from April to October (reserve well ahead); half-day tour$40, donations accepted for shorter tour. www.djerassi.org or (650)747-1250.