New sculpture exhibit comes to Naples Botanical Garden

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Massive sculptures weighing as much as 18,000 lbs now decorate the Naples Botanical Garden.

“It was definitely one of our biggest installations,” said Erin Wolfe Bell, director of exhibitions and special programs at Naples Botanical Garden.

The sculptures are a new visiting exhibit by artist Steve Tobin called “Nature Underground.” He takes tree roots and turns them into larger-than-life cast bronze sculptures, like the pair he titled “Romeo and Juliet.”

“Two trees that fell on my property on either side of a stream and then became entwined in death,” Tobin said. “I wanted to go underground to highlight unseen power.”

Some of his other pieces are recycled steel pipes turned into root systems.

“We run them through rollers to bend to different shapes, we tack them together and then each joint is one man, one month roughly to shape,” Tobin said. “There is roughly five man years, maybe more, into making those pieces.”

And bringing it to the garden for you to see was also a feat. Five flatbeds carried the pieces down from Pennsylvania.

“It took six days for the installation, about eight people each day, and we worked eight to 10-hour days,” Bell said. He spent the last two years working to get the sculptures here. “We were really fortunate to have one of Steve’s root pieces donated to us.”

Just like roots—what started as one small piece spread to 12 pieces, all hoping to get you thinking about the power of the unseen.

While this is fine art, Tobin and the garden wanted to make it approachable for everyone, including children. That’s why they created the Root Route for Sprouts in English and Spanish. It encourages children to draw their own root systems and explain what they took away from this exhibit.

Our partners at Gulfshore Life are excited to be a sponsor of the exhibit, which you can see from now until September 2021. Tickets must be purchased before you go to the Naples Botanical Garden.

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