University students and community members sit in the lecture hall in St. George, Utah, Sept. 13, 2022 | Photo by Truman Burgess, St. George News
ST. george – Young university students and seasoned, white-haired community residents sat side by side in a dimly lit Utah Tech auditorium on Tuesday, ready to learn about famed Italian sculptor and artist Harry Bertoia. With pen and paper at the ready, attend this class as the first community lecture of the semester, posted free of charge by the university and open to anyone to attend on any Tuesday afternoon.
Celia Bertoya, daughter of Harry Bertoya and director and founder of the Harry Bertoya Foundation, delivered the speech Tuesday.
By sharing her father’s life story and art, she says, “I hope to inspire you to do something great of your own.
From metal dandelion sculptures – three-story bronze rod and cone sculptures – to “sound sculptures”, long and vertical shafts mounted on a flat base that create a pleasant sensation when in motion, Harry Bertoya’s creations can be found in prestigious museums across the country. Celia Bertoya said. These include the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Southern Utah residents can experience the art of Harry Bertoya first hand at the Harry Bertoya Foundation Gallery in St. George, located at 1449 N. 1400 West Street, Unit 11.
“I really think he’s connected to the divine,” said Celia Bertoya. “He didn’t sign things because he felt his artistic talent was from a divine source. He didn’t title things, because he felt the audience was just as important as the creator, and he didn’t want to put ideas in your head.
“Harry was brought up Catholic; But we were a family without a church. Religion was not a part of our lives. But he was very spiritual.
Harry Bertoya grew up in the Italian countryside, working as a farm boy, and used every opportunity to draw and paint, Celia Bertoya explained. When he eventually immigrated to America as a young man, his brother Harry Bertoya gave him room and board at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he met his wife, a German immigrant, Brigitta Valentin.
The two married soon after meeting, and Harry Bertoya’s sculpture and furniture design career followed after the Bertoia family moved from California to Pennsylvania.
University Forum Chair John Burns shares his thoughts on Harry Bertoya’s art and legacy.
“It pushed the post-war wave of art into a broader period of exploration, not just visual, but practical and tactile art,” Burns said. “From delicate ornaments to giant fountains, asymmetrical living rooms to small children’s chairs, he has channeled the beauty of nature and turned it into an inspiring experience.
In a press release, Burns explained the purpose of the university forum.
“The university forum is a long-standing and wonderful tradition here at Utah Tech,” he said. “Our mission is to help participants have a window on the world with the goal of fueling a hunger and thirst for curiosity-driven, life-long learning.”
“Bring a friend or 10, an enemy, relative, neighbor or acquaintance. These invited guests are not to be missed and have taken the time to visit our campus and share their research and knowledge with us. Join us for fascinating topics and guests.
Utah Tech Director of Public Relations Jill Hall explained why the university continues to devote resources to hosting these community talks.
“As part of our ‘active learning, active living’ approach to education, we understand that learning is a lifelong commitment,” Hall said, “so we want to provide all kinds of opportunities for the community to come to campus and learn.”
“The fun thing about a community forum is the variety of topics. There will be something that interests everyone, and there will be opportunities to learn things you never knew existed.
Each free presentation is 50 minutes long and takes place at noon in the Dunford Auditorium of the Browning Resource Center on the Utah Tech campus.
Dr. James JA Blair, assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Cal Poly Pomona, will give the next lecture on September 20. He talks about lithium mining.
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