Visit to Umlauf Sculpture Garden

In mid-April we took out-of-town visitors to Umlauf Sculpture Garden, located near Barton Springs and Zilker Park on the site of Charles Umlauf (1911-1994) and his wife’s former home and studio. More than 130 of Umlauf’s sculptures, drawings, and paintings are on display here, including Lovers V , pictured above.

We strolled the leafy grounds of the sculpture garden, admiring Umlauf’s sinewy, elongated bronze figures. This one is called Spirit of Flight. The tree behind it echoes the figure’s lines.

War Mother , steeped in despair. Many of Umlauf’s subjects are religious in nature, although the horror of war figures prominently too.

There’s also plenty of romance going on. This is called—what else?—The Kiss.

Mother and Child

Another child, dressed like a princess, was enraptured by the pond. Oh, how she longed to get wet and muddy, I imagine. Her mother and a hired photographer hovered nearby, trying to capture the perfect shot.

The sculpture garden is readily accessible from downtown and is a pleasant place to while away an hour while looking at beautiful art. The grounds, unfortunately, seem to be suffering from a lack of maintenance and, I suspect, a lack of funding in tough economic times. Low stretches of the garden looked washed out from long-ago rains, and the plantings were unkempt. I remembered it looking rather nicer the last time I visited, several years ago. I hope the eventual economic recovery will allow the nonprofit governing board to bring back the garden in a style befitting the art showcased there.

P.S. A poltergeist got into my comment field earlier and said you had to register to comment. Sorry about that, but it just ain’t so! Thanks to everyone who took the time to let me know. It’s all fixed now. —Pam

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

15 Responses

  1. Diana Kirby says:

    Hi Pam – the form’s back to normal! And the sculptures are lovely. I do like being in that shady, wild garden when visiting Umlauf — but you have to wear bug spray!

    Thanks for letting me know about the comment form troubles, Diana. Yes, Umlauf is a nice place to take the family for a shady stroll. —Pam

  2. Pam — lovely sculpture gardens! Must be a fantastic place to visit. The mother of the little girl should have taken you along as her photographer! Great photos! :-)


    Thanks, Cameron. I took a few pics of my own kids here (not that little anymore, by a long shot), and we had a fun time. —Pam

  3. Gail says:

    Beautifully photographed sculptures Pam! What a sweet photo of the little girl. I imagine you are having a good time with this gorgeous weather the south is enjoying. gail

    I sure am, Gail. I hope you have been too! —Pam

  4. Lori says:

    I love the contrast of all of those pictures of rough-textured sculptures with that last picture of the little girl in her pink princess dress!

    I couldn’t resist snapping her picture from afar (yea for zoom lenses). She was pretty cute. —Pam

  5. Poor kid! If mom was there with a photog, it sounds like she’s the one who wants to be a princess and not the little girl!

    Hi, Linda. It’s not uncommon at all to see photographers and their subjects in the public parks and gardens of Austin, particularly at Zilker Botanical Garden, Mayfield Park, and apparently Umlauf. The green background makes a nice setting for portraits. Maybe they’ll come back another time and get some more-natural shots of the little girl exploring the garden. —Pam

  6. Darla says:

    Wonderful sculptures here.

    Yes, they are pretty amazing. Thanks for stopping by. —Pam

  7. Great images! Umlauf is one of my favorite spots in Austin–does it get any better than art and gardens? You really captured the feel of it.

    Thanks, Kathleen. I enjoyed this return visit to Umlauf quite a lot. I do hope the grounds can be spruced up though. They needed some work. —Pam

  8. Benjamin says:

    This reminds me of one of my favorite places, the Rodin sculpture garden in Paris. Though small and crammed into the city, I’ve visited three times. It’s probably the sculptures more than anything, and if they were in a more idyllic setting I’d be 100% blown away. One must have sculpture in the garden–the garden is sculpture, so to have various forms just ratchets things up a notch.

    I believe I’ve visited the Rodin sculpture garden, Benjamin, oh so many years ago on a backpacking trip across Europe right out of college. Rodin…I mean, yeah, amazing! I like your idea about having sculpture in the garden. Some people are completely opposed, and others do too much. I fall somewhere in the middle and think one or two well-sited pieces would be just the thing. —Pam

  9. Brenda Kula says:

    The talent these artists possess are so enviable! I can’t imagine what it took to sculpt that much beauty to such utter perfection.

    Hi, Brenda. Actually, all the sculptures pictured here (and in the garden) are by Charles Umlauf. He certainly was very talented. —Pam

  10. Kim says:

    Pam, how lovely. I would love to visit this garden – thanks for sharing.

    You’re very welcome, Kim. —Pam

  11. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    These sculptures are marvelous. I wonder if they pruned the tree behind the one sculpture to echo the sculpture. Or which came first the sculpture or the tree?? The war mother is painful to look at, especially during these times. You can feel the suffering. I too hope these sculptures are finally in better kept surroundings.

    I expect that the tree was there first, Lisa, since the property was donated in 1985, and the museum wasn’t constructed until 1991. —Pam

  12. Lola says:

    Pam, Thank you so much for sharing this tour. What magnificent statues. I never knew about this garden. I sure would have liked to visit when I lived in Dallas.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual tour, Lola. —Pam

  13. Chookie says:

    What stunning sculptures! And I think your shot of the little girl was beautiful.

    Thanks, Chookie. —Pam

  14. I last visited the Umlauf last October and agree that it was looking a bit shabby. – but that did not take away from the wonderful sculpture – and I’d like to see the guy who posed for “the kiss” – the definition on his back looks like it came out of an anatomy textbook!

    Ha! He does look pretty ripped, doesn’t he? :-) —Pam

  15. Your photos are great, Pam. I wonder if in its present more raggedy state the Umlauf is closer to what it was like when it was Angie & Charles Umlauf’s private studio garden and Charles was a professor? We’ve taken practically every visitor there for the last nine years.

    Funny thing, with Farrah Fawcett’s sad story in front of us at every grocery line, I had just been thinking about that study of her made by CU when she was one of his students.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I had no idea he used her as a model, Annie. Does one of the sculptures resemble her? —Pam