Culture

Olé - Betty Gold’s Mallorca-inspired sculpture raises the profile of COD’s campus gallery.



Bright red and elegantly angular, Tirón VII — a striking sculpture of cut, welded, ground, and painted steel — finally gives the year-old Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts the iconic focal point it needed.

The center, located at College of the Desert, unveiled the sculpture by Venice-based artist Betty Gold at the November reception for her solo show, “Maquettes Made in Mallorca.” Thirteen maquettes — models for larger sculptures — filled two galleries for the month-long show, with the full-sized Tirón VII (72"x48"x48") on permanent display at the center’s courtyard entrance, courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. David Chatkin, patrons of the artist who live in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“It is our signature piece and the beginning of our sculpture garden,” says gallery director David Einstein. “It creates an opportunity for students and the community to view and perceive the world through the creative process of three-dimensional sculpture.”

The gift is something of a coup for the center. Prior to Gold’s Palm Desert debut, the U.S. Embassy in the Slovakian capitol of Bratislava commissioned her to create a large piece (Tirón IV) for the garden of the presidential palace.

Tirón VII is the last in a series of sculptures that began in 1999 with a monumental installation for the city of Palma de Mallorca in Baleares, Spain. “I was developing pieces that looked like they move with the cape of a bullfighter,” Gold says, noting that tirón is Spanish for “to throw.” “It’s very much geometric how the bullfighter’s cape folds back.”

Gold, 68, is currently working on a 15-foot commissioned sculpture, Homage to Fray Junipero Serra, which will be installed this year outside the new Es Balurad Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palma. Serra, a Franciscan Friar born in Mallorca in 1713, came to California and “was the driving force behind the building of 21 missions from Sonoma to San Diego that stand to this day,” says Gold, an Austin, Texas, native who speaks fluent Spanish and has returned to Mallorca six times since 1999.

The COD community need not be versed in fine art to embrace Tirón VII. Indeed, Einstein hopes it will promote visual and aesthetic literacy — an appreciation for form and process. Ultimately, the installation helps the center fulfill its primary role: to educate and stimulate discourse about the sculpture’s bright cultural and historical significance.

Gold has created work for more than 100 permanent installations and private collections worldwide — including Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Fredrick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, Duke University Medical Center, California State University in Fullerton, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Ronald Reagan California State Building, Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Albuquerque Art Museum. She also has permanent installations in Japan, Ireland, and South Korea.

Palm Springs Desert Museum, which has two of Gold’s sculptures, offered the exhibition of maquettes to the college to expand its reach in the community and to place world-class art where it can educate, enlighten, and inspire.

Tirón VII offers a different experience from every viewpoint. “It casts different shadows and looks different from every angle,” Gold says. “[My sculptures] are living things for me — that’s how people are to me.”

Once she has a design in mind, Gold creates six maquettes but only one large sculpture, which appeals to Einstein’s sensibilities: “Betty isn’t into reproducing [for commercial gain]; she’s into creating what she sees in nature. I admire her integrity.”

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