Thursday, October 27, 2005

Glashoffs' gardens

From Daily Republic // Oct. 27, 2005

By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - What used to be the Glashoff family's pear orchard is now raising a new crop - one of iron and steel.

It includes an 18-foot-high upright banjo and a six-foot windmill with blades turning in the west winds. A rotund Santa and host of abstract women of varying heights also dot the field.

“You have got to admit, they do catch your eye,” Roland Mather of Vacaville said of the sculptures next to Rockville Road. “I came down here to get some produce, but the art is a nice, unexpected addition.”

Suisun Valley sculptor Phil Glashoff hopes his newborn sculpture garden will add more luster to the valley, bringing in more people and possibly spurring an increased interest in sculpture art.

“The valley is struggling and this is all about getting a different quality of people in here,” Glashoff said.

Glashoff's idea to create a sculpture garden emerged a few years ago, not long after the family's produce stand and bakery on Rockville Road closed.

“We were trying to figure out what to do with the property,” Glashoff said.

Glashoff and his son, Chad Glashoff, who was just starting to create his own sculptures, brainstormed on ideas for the land while at the breakfast table at the family ranch.

“I already had a substantial collection of sculptures and Chad was just getting started,” the senior Glashoff said. “We figured we could put the sculptures down on Rockville Road so they could get better exposure.”

It has taken two years to get the sculpture garden started. The past month was spent moving sculptures from Glashoff's secluded home and studio further up the valley where he creates his art.

Growing a sculpture garden

The sculptures share the land with a couple dozen head of cattle, which Glashoff's brother moved on to the land from the family's pear orchard. Someone planned to establish an organic meat company in the farm buildings, but the prospective tenant dropped out, he said. The former bakery and produce stand are now for rent to any agriculture-related business.

“None of (the sculptures) are for sale because this is agriculturally zoned land, but we are doing this to help create Suisun Valley as a destination spot to bring in people to discover the wineries, produce stands and restaurants here,” Glashoff said.

It will also serve as an opportunity for local schools' art departments to experience local art “and a great place for new artists to see and get motivated,” Chad Glashoff said.

A little more than two dozen sculptures stand around the former bakery, the closed-off parking lot and the gravel road between the two pastures.

“We are planning to do additions as time goes on,” Glashoff said. “This is just the beginning.”

Glashoff's goal is to have at least 50 sculptures on display. While the lion's share will be his or his son's work, Glashoff hopes to display sculptures from artists from around the world.

The sculptor talks about putting in even larger sculptures in the pastures, possibly up to 40 feet high, much higher than the mostly human-sized pieces there now.

“I want to see what reaction (to the sculpture garden idea) we get before putting large elements into the pasture,” he said.

A unique art gallery

This would be the first such sculpture park within Solano County with the nearest other such sculpture parks found in Oakland, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

“There are no other places around here for artists to display their (larger) works,” Glashoff said. “This will be that place.”
Doreen Lum, who runs The Vegetable Patch across Rockville Road, has been watching the sculpture garden's birth for some time.

“I think its great,” Lum said. “This will bring a different kind of clientele to the area and hopefully they will venture across the street (to Lum's produce stand).”

Maria Gomez pointed out the large medal banjo near the entrance to the sculpture garden to her daughter during a stop at Lum's store.

“They are very nice and it's nice to have them out here for everyone to see them,” Gomez said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

The sculpture garden will be open to the general public noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 29 & 30. After that, it will be open for free docent-led tours on weekends only. To arrange an appointment, call 429-1133.

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