Arts-artinthegardens(willtallent)

Heavy metal and nature have never mixed so well as they have in Art in the Garden.

The exhibit, which is presented by San Antonio Botanical Gardens and Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, is entering its last month at the facility and will be replaced by the 2013 installation starting in March.

Visitors can see many different sculptures in the Gardens’ habitat conservatory at no extra charge. Artists featured in this exhibit include Patricia Tinajero, George Tobolowski, Peter Mangan, Dewane Hughes, Verina Baxter, Bret Price and Linda Kim.

The Botanical Gardens provide a wonderfully aesthetic background for the art. Natural colors of plants contrast sharply against smoothly painted steel. The colorful pieces grab the viewer’s attention, making it hard to walk by and ignore the installations. The pieces that are not painted, but slightly rust colored or clean steel silver, stand out from the green environment. Of course, the gardens are also filled with sunlight, offering the perfect stage for those sculptures that contain glass or other reflective materials.

A couple of sculptures stand next to big pyramids that contain specialized plant habitats, producing an industrial, futuristic arrangement. All of these elements come together nicely to create a diverse exhibit.

One interesting element of sculpture is that the materials are often salvaged from somewhere, giving each piece of metal a history and allowing each piece to bring an original element to the project.

Dallas artist George Tobolowski has been collecting “junk” from scrap yards (or anywhere he happens to stumble across) for more than 30 years. Tobolowski has a collection of mechanical parts and steel scrap that he stores in his shop, although he may not use any pieces for months or maybe years.

It takes a special sort of talent to find potential in dirty discarded steel scrap and then find a place for it in a piece of art. George is also known for his witty titles like the “600lb Dealbreaker” that resemble a man-size monkey wrench or “Fighter” that looks like a robot warrior from the future.

Another artist featured in the exhibit is Bret Price. The natural colors in the plant environment complement his work the most. Price’s statue called “Triad” is a soft, red color that contrasts perfectly against the bushes of green ferns and colorful flowers. The metal is twisted in a way that makes it appear soft and flexible.

Price uses a special technique of heating chambers around metal and adding heat to specific points to create the illusion of supple steel.

The sunlight also plays a crucial role in the display of the art. Peter Mangan’s metal silhouettes with shapes of dangling glass use sunlight to complete each sculpture.

Mangan has been working with glass since 1977. His pieces are featured throughout the United States, Europe and Japan and usually contain silhouettes of the human body filled with glass shapes. Mangan uses a range of techniques from blacksmithing to medieval glass painting methods and plasma cutting and computer-controlled kilns.

This artist shows his skills in the model titled, “The Conversation,” which consists of circles and squares of glass that look like fruit slices and floppy disks dangling from a triple-layered steel silhouette.

Each artist provides some signature contribution, making showcases like this fun, diverse and entertaining. Visitors get a chance to admire the work of many different talented artists while also enjoying the scenery in the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

Visiting the Art in the Garden exhibit is a pleasant experience and recommended for any art lover.

Art in the Garden will be open to visitors from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with an admission price of $5-$8. The 2013 installation of Art in the Garden will open on March 22. For more information, visit .

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