We arrived at the Benini Studio and Sculpture Ranch near Johnson City after our backroads wildflower tour. There are lots of ranches in Texas, but this ranch is very different.
For one thing the cattle are made of chrome and rusty metal.
This is "Paladin" by Texas artist Bettye Hamblen Turner
In 1999 Italian artist Benini and his wife Lorraine moved to Texas and began installing sculptures by artists from around the world on their ranch just outside Johnson City.
The tour begins at the beautiful on-site art gallery where the works of Benini and guest artists are on display.
I could have stood here and looked at this door all day
Beyond the door and into the gallery, we both loved this beautiful building and the artwork on display
After signing in visitors are invited to drive or walk the roads around the ranch to see the outdoor sculptures on display.
Some works are monumental like these hands named "Aspiration and Determination"
"Etruscan Warrior" is 21-feet tall
A few paid homage to the Texas ranch setting
A very Texas "Bluebonnet" and behind the trees is "Five Bucks, One Blue".
Another view of "Five Bucks, One Blue"
Some pieces reflected typical Texas yard art style. This is "Ranching Memories" near the entrance
I was amused to find these painted roof vents which are a common theme in Texas yard art. This is "Wee Three Kings" by Benini.
Many sculptures are kinetic, and the gentle breezes this day provided nice, slow paced movements. Flowers and garden inspired pieces were a very high end version of yard art stuff we find at our favorite garden centers.
Contemporary pieces of cut metal play beautifully with our native oaks.
Some mimic our native limestone rocks
The road leads up to the residence high at the top of a hill
Visitors are welcome to walk around the yard to see the sculptures on display and enjoy the view. This is one of several sculptures by Texas artist Ho Baron which were among my favorites on the ranch.
A horse sculpture by Bettye Hamblen Turner is stunning. This one is "HI-Ho". Hi-Ho Silver? Or a possible reference to the work of fellow Texan Ho Baron nearby?
Bronzes overlooking the valley
Contemporary steel on a pedestal against a background of trees
Behind the house is this chair sculpture "Waiting for Blue Moon" by Benini.
A view back at the hilltop near the house
Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch by the pond surrounded by world-class sculpture. This is "Head Games" by Ho Baron.
Nearby is this mirror mosaic likeness of Benini
The Pod Series
"Table for One"
A detailed look at "Paladin" before we head out.
More pieces along the road to the main gate
Agaves by La Paso
The Benini Studio and Sculpture Ranch is currently for sale and will close permanently after Labor Day this year so the next few months will be the last chance to see this unique bit of Texas art history. Update: The Benini Sculpture Ranch did not close as scheduled in 2012 and remains open.
When we left the ranch we headed toward Johnson City and took advantage of a few more sights along the way. This agave bloom by one of the gates to The Preserve at Walnut Springs next door reflects the steel agave bloom sculptures we had just seen along the gate road.
Real longhorns in the shade.
A bull sculpture by Bettye Hamblen Turner marks the turn at Hwy 290 near Johnson City. This one was purchased and moved to this spot so it will remain on permanent display here at the entrance to The Preserve at Walnut Springs which is currently under development.
The Benini Ranch sculptures mix Texas Hill Country natural beauty with art that often mimics the landscape.