A guest blog by Val Bertoia
by New York Spaces
Where Healing and Art Intersect
Back when I was a young boy growing up in Bally, PA, I had a vision of being a guiding spirit for woodland people which I called ‘Treeple’. And in this vision, I was working with my hands. At the time, my father Harry Bertoia had already invented the vertical-rod sound-sculpture, connecting with his own childhood memories of church bells in Italy. The simple touching of metal rods became the most amazing discovery of his career, and opened me up to a world from which the growing directional life spiral flows. Unlike most forms of art, these sound-sculptures can have healing energies even with one’s eyes closed. My childhood vision turned prophetic as I began utilizing my mechanical engineering degree to work alongside my father, Harry Bertoia, to create and install large-scale sound-sculptures.
Where Healing and Art Intersect
My connection to the land and its elements and energies has always inspired my work—this growing spiral of life has undeniably influenced me and my work which plays out in all directions—east, south, west, and north. If you come visit Bertoia Studios in Bally, PA—I will take you on a walk through my Ecological Sculpture Pathway where one can walk the path, and feel the energies of nature, water, sun, wind, and trees. I also host sound performances as part of the tour in the Sonambient Barn for small audiences. The Sonambient Barn is virtually a gallery of gongs, suspended tubes and clusters of vertical metal rods, which sway and knock against one another and can be strummed as musical instruments in addition to being sculptures. Here, walking along the Ecological Sculpture Pathway, one can transcend the daily stresses of life and more wholly connect with the universe. The spatial and tonal environment created by these sound sculptures is unlike anything you have ever experienced. It is the purest way to connect with Nature—just by closing one’s eyes and keeping an open mind. For those who wish to continue their experiential Sonambient journey, I invite you to preview a few of my personal favorites available exclusively through Highland Park.
In ‘S for Sound Sculpture’, the design of my 16-rod sound sculpture increases the sound quality with heavy cat-tail tops at playable height when floor mounted. Freer swaying movement is possible with its open spacing. The cat-tails can be brought together and released for pulsating squid-like movement to hear clear sounds. Another one of my favorite recent pieces, which draws upon the energies of nature which I find so compelling, is ‘Harry Bertoia: Snake Gong for Sound Around’. From the great success of snake-gongs at Mayfair in 2001, I made this small snake-shaped gong last year using my father Harry Bertoia’s silicon-bronze, but this one is S-shaped for Sound because of the amazing undulating movement and oscillating sound quality. And finally getting back to my roots of the ever-growing spiral, there is ‘Val Bertoia: 4 Bulb Tree Sculpture’, where I took the concept of a 4-leaf clover bringing the finder good luck, and expanded the leaf forms for full volume to maximize the strongest good luck in the owner’s life. The swirling effect of each voluminous leaf gives clear direction of the growing spiral. Everything is connected...and the driving force behind all my metal sculpture work derives from what I refer to as the directed growing spiral within an eco-cube. I invite you to experience the importance of art in nature. Just close your eyes and experience the simple sounds of touching rods connecting the human mind to the universe in a delightful, serene way!
Val Bertoia's metal sculpture is available through Highland Park at 1stdibs@NYDC 200 Lexington Avenue, Ste. 1039, New York, NY 10016. Contact: Eve Kelly Herman, Owner of Highland Park, at 212.680.0175.