Magic online encounters of sculpture network
Beatriz Carbonell Ferrer initiated SCULTO in Logroño (La Rioja, Spain), the first specialized art fair for international contemporary sculpture in Spain. Karin van der Molen started an international sculpture symposium and exhibition, relating to the landscape of the Netherlands.
This was my third time at the sculpture network Online Club. For those of you who have not been there yet, these online gatherings feel like attending an International Forum: a welcoming greeting from a smiling host accompanied by a room full of people. Among them you recognize some familiar faces and discover new ones, plus, like always, plenty of nationalities are represented. Joining from Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Italy, Spain and many more , around 40 people were present that Monday night. This is what sculpture network is all about. Most of the participants were practicing artists, but also friends of sculpture and art professionals had found their way to this online event, which has the advantage of crossing borders without any travelling or costs involved.
Karin van der Molen’s success story: how she started a sculpture symposium in the Netherlands
Karin, a site-specific artist, graduated from law school and engaged in human rights activism prior to becoming a full time (self-taught) artist later on. Moving from the busy urban Amsterdam to the countryside was quite a transition. However, having longed for nature over years, nature quickly became her new realm: the place and medium for her art practice. Focused on the natural threat in her local environment, the Wetlands in the Netherlands, she and her partner initiated a first symposium with site-specific art relating to water. With other artists she wanted to create a platform of exchange and discussion, a space for common interests and raising questions about and awareness of rising water levels in a country where most people live below sea-level.
Karin shared how she started from scratch, what steps, strategies, and tactics she used to acquire funding, select artists ( among others from sculpture network), and involve and convince the locals to support the project. She illustrated her presentation with many pictures and gave a detailed account of the working process, the site organization, and how assistants and artists came together to erect the large scale works on site. Moreover, she described the mood cycles ranging from frustration to pride, the relation process with the local community during and after the symposium. What it took to realise this project? An artist's initial determination and creativity, a lot of people, sweat, time, and hard work. And despite all the hardship, Karin added , all participants shared a great experience and were thankful. To gather for a meal after an exhausting day of work,, to have a glass of wine and a conversation, to receive a massage, to laugh together, and to live some intense moments together, is simply the best. The symposium led to a meaningful 6-month land art exhibition, attracted visitors, and raised awareness far beyond the local community on a national and international level. In 14 years, Karin and her partner have organized 8 land art exhibitions, with success. This year they are invited to curate 3 art in nature exhibitions.
Beatriz Carbonell Ferrer’s success story: creating SCULTO, the first sculpture Art fair in Spain
In continuation of a fruitful career as a sculptor around the globe, Beatriz and her husband settled down in the city of Logrono in the Rioja wine region. Motherhood followed and working on site became impossible. Tied to the ground because of her new familiar responsibilities, Beatriz’ creative mind did not rest. In the night-time, new ideas formed, circled in her head and kept her awake. One day, she finally decided to turn her concept into action. Sharing her new thoughts with two close friends at first, she envisioned the audacious project to start a fair dedicated exclusively to sculpture and 3D visual arts.
SCULTO, the name given to the fair, now sounds familiar to sculpture network members as there have been 3 annual editions since its beginnings in 2017. Rewinding to the start, the concept, the original aims and strategies applied, Beatriz explained how the local community was involved in the realisation of the fair, especially the local galleries, cultural institutions and wineries; how she found a special location on the top floor of a traditional food market; how she created a parallel exhibition in the Museum of Rioja, showcasing sculpture collections of other Spanish museums. SCULTO is a huge success, and already ranks as one of the top two art-fairs, together with ARCO. The 4th edition of the fair is planned for autumn 2021.
Beatriz thanked sculpture network for promoting SCULTO with an outstanding media campaign, reaching an international audience. She also explained why the art fair focused on galleries to expedite the curatorial process and how the fair maintains a high level of excellence due to space considerations. In Spain, as in other countries, an artist's professional career generally depends on being represented by a gallery. For artists, hoping to be represented at SCULTO, Anne Berk shared her curatorial experience and gave the advice on how to efficiently get the attention of gallerists. Beatriz also encouraged the artists to check out the galleries exhibiting at the SCULTO via the website. Generally, SCULTO has encouraged gallery owners to represent more sculptors, and might pave the way for other specialized sculpture fairs.
Karin and Beatriz proved that challenges can be mastered. Both stressed, that the enormous positive outcome by much outweighed the initial efforts. What a chance to experience and share these first-hand experiences in sculpture network’s Online Club! “Thank you, ladies! You were rocking it! I took it all in: the learnings, the art, and the cherry on top - a true moment of shared connectivity with like-minded friends. To me, this was magic!”
About Anne Berk
Anne Berk is a curator, art critic and educator, living and working near Amsterdam, NL. Currently, she is also a Coordinator and curator for sulpture network.
About Karin van der Molen
Karin van der Molen creates site-specific art. Her permanent and ephemeral environmental sculptures and installations she places in forests, parks and on buildings.
About Beatriz Carbonell Ferrer
Beatriz Carbonell Ferrer (Valencia, *1974) holds a degree in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts of San Carlos, of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. She is a sculptress and project manager.
About the author
Laure Debouttiere (France, *1973) is an art historian. Based in Moscow since 2017, she currently works on a research project about socially engaged art practice in post-Soviet Russia.
Cover picture: Pedro Mazorati, Where the Tides Ebb and Flow