A husband and wife collaboration has led to the newest piece in the Triton Museum of Art’s sculpture garden.
Installed on April 1, Cooper’s Joy–a six-foot-tall, orange, O-shaped, steel sculpture–was created by Robin and Chris Sawyer, a painter and sculptor respectively, and commissioned for $9,000 by a museum donor, who prefers to remain anonymous.
The donor, a patron of the Triton and person familiar with the Sawyers’ work, connected the couple with Executive Director Jill Meyers and Chief Curator Preston Metcalf about adding a new sculpture to the garden. Meyers and Metcalf met with the artists and decided on the piece, which, according to Meyers, was created in a bright color chosen specifically to “stand out amongst the redwood trees.”
The sculpture, however, is personal for the artists, who created a smaller version of Cooper’s Joy as a tribute to their dog.
“It came about after the tragic loss of our dog, Cooper, who died of acute leukemia at the age of four,” said Robin Sawyer. “I was devastated by her death, and, as an artist, was moved to create a symbol of her passing that would make us smile. Since my husband is a sculptor, we were able to collaborate and create this piece together. It was my design, and he did the hard work of fabricating the steel,” which she said was a challenge given that “steel does not like to bend in irregular circles.”
The original 31” tall piece is currently sitting above Cooper’s burial site at the Sawyer’s home overlooking the Caramel River valley. A replica has been also made out of resin for other public collections, including the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. “We enjoyed imagining Cooper leaping–or sailing out–through the circular opening and over the valley below,” she said.
Meyers said the museum is delighted to have the new addition. “I love the piece. I think it’s beautiful and fantastic and adds so much to our park. I hope the visitors enjoy it as much as I do.”
Enhancing and expanding the sculpture garden is one of the museum’s current projects, and Meyers is extremely happy with the interactions museum staff has seen between visitors and the sculpture thus far.
“One of the first things we saw with this installation,” said Meyers, “was someone sitting on it. It brings a different kind of interaction that can be more fun. It’s more engaging … It’s such a beautiful park in Santa Clara and we want more people to come and embrace it as part of their community.”
This is the second sculpture the Triton has added in recent years–the first being a Harry Powers piece that was added in 2015–and Meyers hopes to install more in the near future, including a Randy Shiroma sculpture that was donated to the museum.
Cooper’s Joy can be seen in the sculpture garden behind the Triton Museum of Art, 1505 Warburton Ave.. The sculpture is also viewable in front of the Headen-Inman House off Don Ave.. The Sawyers currently have pieces in a juried show at the Pacific Art League. Robin Sawyer’s work can be viewed at www.robin-sawyer.com and the work of Chris Sawyer, who exhibits at the Carmel Art Association, can be seen at www.cnsawyer.com.