I have discovered Cliff Garten’s work in 2013, during my routine research about Harvard graduates of the Graduate School of Design. I was very inspired by what I saw – the scope of his work , the depth, the scale and the playful creativity, all while encompassing large projects with infrasctucture connotation. I was attracted and inspired by the “Bullet & Suspect” composition imagery. Despite the harshness of the theme –since the project is a Forensic lab in Denver – and the hard durable materials – the poetry of the composition is undeniable. This is very similar to the well balanced wave design of the Los Angeles Overpass – the Baldwin Hills gateway, strongly reminiscent of e lace ribbon. There is a continuity in Cliff Garten’s work – that is rooted in his inner equilibrium. I was inspired by this giant visionary, who breaks boundaries and makes a statement – with harmony and without antagonizing the environment and the public.
Cliff Garten’s clear interest and in the connection between the Public and Private realm as it relates to Art , has always been close to my heart. Mr.Garten artistically embodies my inner belief system in that field. It is not incidental that my own artistic expression covers a wide range of medium, that can only be categorized as “multimedia “. That multidisciplinary quality was another one of Cliff Garden, that I deeply relate to. Somehow through the years – I always believed that Art and Architecture are closely related and the tangent is called Landscape Architecture.
CLIFF GARTEN STUDIO | Philosophy | Purpose
There is a latent potential in every public place and situation to become more than the specific functions it appears to perform. Public and private experiences are never distinct, but exchange places throughout the day. My search for a place where desire intersects with our everyday activity is the search for sculptural forms which engage us in the poetry of our own actions and define our personal and social histories. The necessary facts of our public infrastructure are cause for the possibility of a public expression through the conscious design and integration of art. Sculpture defines our interaction and movement by creating energy between things, generating interest in public activity, reframing our private lives and creating a sense of place within public and private realms” ._C.G
Apparently the Harvard School of Design shares that view, since the graduate Public Art program and the graduate Landscape Architecture program belong to the same school.
On May 12th, 2013, the Los Angeles Arts Commission launched a new program of Open Studio talks with Artists – I was excited to attend to the Cliff Garten’s Open Studio. I was one of approximately twenty attendants. It was a great pleasure to meet Mr.Garten in person – for his level of sophistication, he is an approachable, kind mannered tall man. The presentation was a revelation of his noteworthy projects, his approach and his methodology.
There is hardly enough space to point out the details of the presentation- what was clear was that the success of the Studio is lined with depth , dedication and careful planning. Cliff Garten Studio . is a multidisciplinary Art studio for Public Art with the structure, discipline and organization of an Architectural studio, incorporating digital technology along with hands on craft. As Mr.Garten said – “You simply cannot buy a software and become a great designer because of it. The software is a tool – just like the brush and the sculpture rake.” You cannot design something that you are unable to craft with your own hands…” Excellent point. Artists vision for the concept comes first, dictated by the site and or the location – everything else follows, including the digital craft. To say that I agree is an understatement – I share this opinion 100%.
I am very enthusiastic about the rest of the Artists open studio events . Despite the facts that I have attended the most interesting and most inspiring Art talk. Why ? Perhaps because this new form of Art, the so called Public Art is a relatively new phenomenon and is born in the Unites States. And perhaps because it is the only form of Art, that has the capacity to transform the infrastructure of the public realm in this beautiful vast country of ours. Because America might be beautiful – when it comes to nature – but with the demographic expansion comes building an construction expansion that takes over and it is very easy to turn a green field into a concrete desert.
Cliff Garten’s vision has made vast breakthroughs in that regard – by showing that Public Infrastructure can be harmonious and functional at the same time. It is what people call beautiful. I call it simply brilliant.
If there is any slippery slope between Art and Function – it was not present in Cliff’s Garten’s work. When it comes to Public Art – Form and Function is allowed as long as it does carry artistic vision of a genius like Cliff Garten to unite the two in a interplay that brings subtle , yet unforgettable experiences.
for the ArtChronicle