|Fine art finds home at Green Music Center
Widow of renowned Bay Area artist donates clay and bronze pieces to Sonoma State University concert hall
The beautification process of the Green Music Center on the Sonoma State University campus continued last week with the installation of a 12-foot bronze sculpture by nationally renowned artist Steven De Staebler.
The piece, title, “Winged Figure Ascending, 2011,” is on loan to the SSU art department via the courtesy of De Staebler’s widow, Danae Mattes, who was on hand for the installment of the statues on Aug. 23. The bronze statue will reside outside the GMC main entrance. Another statue by De Staebler – made of clay – was placed inside the lobby of the GMC.
For Michael Schwager, director of the SSU art gallery and a professor at the university, De Staebler’s pieces are the first in what he hopes will be a long line of fine art displayed at the GMC. Schwager believes the GMC could be a boon for the local art community.
Start of something big
“I think it’s definitely making it easier to get fine pieces such as these,” Schwager said while helping install the statues. “People want to be part of this incredible project. I’m hoping it’ll be easier in the future because people will see what a phenomenal facility the Green Music Center is.”
A staff member, according to Schwager, got the ball rolling with Mattes by making the suggestion of using the GMC as a venue for his art.
The installation of the pieces is also the fruition of years of discussions among the SSU art staff.
“It's been exciting, gratifying, kind of amazing that all this discussion is turning into reality," Schwager said. “I’ve known his work for 30-40 years. This is the style I was familiar with, the ceramics figures that looked like they were unearthed from different cultures.”
De Staebler’s art, according to Mattes, is directly related or connected to the earthy matters.
“He did a lot of figures that were ascending with or from the earth, and that’s an interesting idea,” Mattes said. “He had figures ascending, taking with him part of the earth. He loved the earth and the natural systems of the earth. He was connected to nature. Most have come from moving figures in life, from birth to death and natural rhythms of life.”
A signature piece
Mattes was unable to put an exact time frame on how long each of the two pieces donated to SSU took to complete. She said his artwork is done in series, and combined, the series at SSU took at least a year and a half.
He died in May of 2011, right after finishing the two pieces at SSU.
“This (Winged Figure Ascending, 2011) was a signature piece for Steven, “ Mattes said. “This figure fits the venue because it is very lyrical and all about ascending.”
The pieces are expected to be at SSU for three years, but if Schwager had his way…
“What we’re hoping is for someone to step up and buy the pieces so we can have them here on a permanent basis,” he said.