Filoli Inspirations – Sculpture Exhibit in the Garden

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Filoli Inspirations – Sculpture Exhibit in the Garden

05/16/2017 @ 12:00am – 11/05/2017 @ 5:00pm

Tuesday, May 16 through Sunday, November 5

To commemorate Filoli’s 2017 Centennial of the Garden, this year’s outdoor sculpture exhibit is inspired by the Bourn’s collection of turn-of-the-century garden art and accessories. The exhibit features some 30 works by 12 sculptors from California and Oregon. Guests may take a self-guided tour of the exhibit or they may make advance reservations for a Guided Sculpture Walk.  All sculptures on exhibit are for sale, with part of the proceeds benefiting Filoli.

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Jim Salyards reflects on “Filoli Garden Inspirations” Sculpture Exhibit

Why have sculpture in the garden — especially in this “year of the garden” for Filoli’s Centennial?    

Filoli’s annual sculpture shows have been a successful addition to our art exhibit program since 2014. They have become a way to showcase local artists’ works in our spectacular gardens. This is the first year that we’ve focused the exhibit on a specific theme. Finding pieces that complement our historic garden art seems appropriate for our 2017 Centennial celebration of the “year of the garden.”  

Beautiful art is a wonderful foil for the trees, shrubs and other plants in the garden. Sometimes a sculpture helps to direct the eye or set off a plant that might not otherwise be noticed and studied.

How did these sculpture exhibits begin?  

I was inspired by presentations about sculpture shows in gardens at the American Public Garden Association’s annual conference a few years ago. Many gardens have found that adding sculpture to their gardens, particularly during seasons when visitation is historically lower, encourages guests to visit the garden multiple times during the year.  

Working with long-time Filoli volunteer Suzanne Legallet, our volunteer Art Committee and other art experts, we approached several local artists about participating in Filoli’s first show.

Can you tell us something about Filoli’s historic garden art and accessories?

The majority of the pieces in the garden reflect the Bourns’ taste and what was appropriate for an early-20th-Century, English-inspired estate. The Bourns worked with local artisans — for example the Rognier Garden Ornaments and Mantles in San Mateo — to create some of the pieces. They also purchased pieces during their travels. I’ll be talking more about Filoli’s historic garden art the evening of August 24 as part of our Sculpture Exhibit Reception. Check our website ( for more details and to make reservations.

What can guests expect to see in “Filoli Garden Inspirations”?

Walking through our beautiful gardens to view the exhibit will provide guests with an enjoyable journey that links present to past. They will see unique present-day sculpture of varied media. And they will learn more about our historic collection of garden art through interpretive materials placed alongside our pieces.

What are you personally most excited about in this year’s exhibit? 

The pieces that are clearly connected to Filoli’s historic garden art are the ones that bring authenticity to the exhibit. The piece that excites me the most is the bronze eagle by Stefan Savides, which will be placed at the base of the Yew Allee, adjacent to the lead eagles atop the Bourn Gate.

Any further thoughts before we wrap up?

It has been incredibly enjoyable to work with Filoli’s volunteers to create these sculpture exhibits over the past four years. The addition of art to the garden, particularly during the drought years, but in lush years as well, gives our guests the opportunity to see the garden through a different lens.

One of my favorite stories after the first exhibit in 2014 was from a volunteer who mentioned that she had a group of friends who’d never visited Filoli because they didn’t care for gardens. They were, however, great appreciators of art, and she was able to use the art to entice them to visit the garden that first time.

So whether you love gardens, art or both, I’d like to invite you to come enjoy amazing sculpture in a spectacular setting. All of the sculpture on exhibit will be for sale – and you may find just the perfect piece for your own garden!