day 403 – four thank yous

This is the final post of four things on but the site will remain open with updates on the things to come.

This has been a truly amazing year with this project. From day one I knew when I was organizing my studio and seeing how many small collections of things I kept and really loved, to Allison Sommers first post on January 2nd 2011, and in early November when all weeks had been assigned, and now when everything is all said and done that the concept of this project was something people really enjoy. We love our stuff and other peoples as well.

I can’t thank the Guest Editor’s enough for making this what it is. It takes courage to expose the things we hold onto. The Guest Editor’s did it and the internet has found out a little more about each of them.

I encourage everyone to keep checking back to find out what is next for this little project. My hope is a bound book and art exhibition. But I am open to other possibilites.

My humble thank you to everyone who made this possible and the collectors around the world, past, present, and future.

Happy New Year.

s. arden hill


day 318 – four Harry Bertoia obits

It’s hard, in merely a week, to say much about this man and his work I fell in love with.

He was born March 10, 1915, the same year as my mother.  He left, transitioned, November 6, 1978. 

I thought this appropriate to end the week.

What else do you want to know about him? 
What sculpture speaks to you?  

Keep posted for a book:  The Man Who Makes my Heart Sing _ A personal journey & discovery of Harry Bertoia

PS  A special thank you to Arden for making this possible.

day 317 – four Harry Bertoia early sculptures

Am surprised this week has gone so quickly.

These Bertoia sculptures are from the 1950’s.  

What do you see in these?  How do they relate to Harry’s later sculptures?

I have been locating & documenting all Bertoia sculptures since 1998 in preparation for a Catalogue Raisonne`.  Someone asked me what’s my favorite sculpture.  I realized every sculpture counts equally for me.  I’m excited every time I find a new sculpture.  Others are more critical of different sculptures.  My job is to locate every piece he did so I don’t give any one sculpture more weight than another. 

Do I have a favorite?  …A favorite?  No way.  I suppose my favorites are my first pieces, the ones that made this project possible.   I also really like the sculptures I showed yesterday, the ones with welded rods like the fountain maquettes.  There are others I love but there’s no particular theme.  I’d say the vibration in the piece is more what I’m attracted to. 

If you have a sculpture or know someone who does, please contact me so it can be registered with the Harry Bertoia Research Project.

This week has been a fabulous adventure for me.  Thanks for reading this . . . .

day 316 – four Harry Bertoia fountain maquettes

I love these metal creations.  They were done by Bertoia as models for fountains he was commissioned to make.  The fine metal rods are welded together & shaped.  The full-size fountains range in size from 6′ high to 13 ‘ high x 14’ structures and made of different-sized hollow copper tubing bent & welded to match the lines of the maquette.  It was really fun seeing the Philadelphia Civic Center scupture move through the city streets on a rig going to another location. 

I visited the Marshall University Memorial Fountain in Huntington, WV. I will always remember walking on the sidewalk, seeing the fountain come into view.  It took my breath away, like seeing a long-lost-friend.  I spent several hours with it, photographing it from every angle and in different natural lighting settings, watching the light play on it as the sun disappeared beyond the horizon.  

And, the day I drove into foggy Buffalo, NY, into the M&T Bank Plaza, I was dazzled by the sculpture in the oval fountain.  The sculpture was one of 7 commissioned by  Minuro Yamasaki for buildings around the country. I was on my way home from a 6 week trip to Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Detroit where I’d been doing research and photographing pieces.  I had only a short time there so I took photos of the sculpture in the fog.  I was dubious about them turning out.  They are, in fact, some of my favorites.

I was rushing back to Philadelphia to see my son race in the Dad Vale Regatta on the Schuylkill River.  He rowed for Roman Catholic High School.  I arrived as he was crossing the finish line in first place,  just in time to photograph the awards ceremony. 

All good.

day 315 – four Harry Bertoia sounding sculpture details

The man, the sculptures, make my heart sing . . . .

I love the details.  If God is in the details, what do you see?

I have thousands of these images.  I get lost, caught up, in them for hours.  I love to be up close and personal.  I love that I can see what Harry could see.  Can you hear it?  Does it touch YOUR heart?  What touches YOUR heart?  That is what this whole exploration has been.  Listen to my heart & hear what it’s telling me. 

Now, how can I tell?  When my heart is singing, JOY is there.  Did you know you can learn the same lessons in joy as you can learn in pain & struggling?   I remember the day in 1997 I made that choice:  “I will live the rest of my life in joy.  I will only do what brings me joy.”

At the time I couldn’t even tell you what was joyful to me.  But I definitely knew when I wasn’t in joy.  That’s all I needed to know.  I began a practice of noticing when I wasn’t in joy.  In that moment, I’d see if I could transform my experience to joy.  If I could not, I’d leave & find something or someplace where joy was again present. 

The first thing that showed up in that space of joy was a driving trip to Iowa to say goodbye to my mother who I knew would be transitioning soon.  Before that trip, I got sleepy when I drove any distance.  I used to say, “The angels got me here when I’d arrive at my destination.  I kept falling asleep.”  In this trip I drove 3,000 miles, saw aunts/uncles/cousins/friends I hadn’t seen for 30 years, visited 8-10 skateboarding parks with my kids and had a great time.  Don’t think I dozed or fell asleep once.

Next, I found a space for my design studio in my neighborhood.  It was the first one I’d ever had outside my house.

Then someone said to me, “You must  have a new man in your life, you’re smiling alot.”  I replied, “No, I got joyful and began smiling and then a new man showed up in my life.  I’m clear the smiling happened first.”

As my practice of living in joy continued, my Harry Bertoia sculpture(s) and falling in love with Harry occurred. 

My life altered as I listened to, and followed, the joy in my heart.

What did you say makes YOUR heart sing?


day 314 – four Harry Bertoia ‘bush’ centers

A series of sculpture Harry Bertoia is known for are the “bush” pieces.  These images are different centers he created in this category.  Look at the detail, the intricacies, the fascination with nature that appear in them.  Bertoia’s work is all welded metal with the exception of the “spill cast” group he made by spilling molten metal into beds of sand where he often imbedded stones or moved the metal with tools as it cooled. 

He was always interested in what metal would/could do.  He followed the flow of it rather than forcing it into some unnatural design.  It was one of the gifts Bertoia brought in his work.  An extra ordinary, simple (not complicated), complex, extraordinary man.

The thought of him makes my heart sing . . . .


day 313 – four Harry Bertoia chairs

Knoll presented Harry Bertoia chair designs as well as his sculpture in their New York City showroom in December 1951.  It was a one man show.  This year is the 60th Anniversary of this continuously manufactured series of chairs.  Extraordinary!  They are as unique a design today as they were then.  We see them in commercials, in film and in public & private gardens around the world. 

Have you ever sat in one?  My favorite is the small diamond chair, with or without cushion or upholstery.  We use them outside in our garden, in our dining room and in my studio library.

Try them, you’ll like them….