Johnson City Record Courier
This was Johann Eyfells’ first impression of his new property. He purchased his 10 acre ranch site unseen through local realtor Joe Stewart. One hundred and ten tons of sculpture arrived by semi-truck and huge flatbed trucks from Florida and Houston last week. This is only the first delivery for his Hill Country destination. The shipments originated in Iceland and Orlando, Florida with its final destination about 15 miles west of Johnson City on Highway 290 to what promises to be another cultural stronghold for the area.
Eyfells’ first introduction to the Texas Hill Country came with an invitation from Italian artist Benini to exhibit his major sculpture “Disappearance Manifested” at the Benini Foundation and Sculpture Ranch, seven miles from Johnson City.
The friendship of these two artists dates back 20 years when both lived in Florida near Orlando. Eyfells was serving as a professor at the University of Central Florida teaching Sculpture, and Design, as well as Processes and Ideas in Art. Benini was painting in his studio on the shores of Lake Harney. Through the years they maintained contact, and followed each other’s career successes.
You might ask who is Johann Eyfells? Johann Eyfells is an internationally renowned sculptor. Born in Iceland eighty years ago, he explored boxing and architecture before focusing on sculpture. Massive Sculpture! In this process, he developed a highly unique philosophical and theoretical framework that links his work to his universal outlook, his questionings and his formulations of science, life and art. His work is so highly regarded that it was selected for the Venice Biennale, one of the highest honors in the world of fine arts. Just last year, it was featured in an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Eyfells’ move actually brings the work of two major international artists to the Hill Country. About 60 pieces of bronze sculptures recently cast in foundries in New York, Florida and London, pieces of Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells, will also join the project. The next installation, scheduled for the first week in February, will bring two truckloads of her large paintings and works on paper. Her Famous Faces series and Ladies Anonymous series have been featured in writings and exhibitions since the early 1980’s. Married for 54 years, the Eyfells worked separately, and side by side, in their work, as detailed in their website, www.EyfellsandEyfells.com. Following Kristin’s death in 2002, Johann renewed efforts to maintain the joint focus of their careers. Though he walks alone these days, he lives surrounded by her paintings and sculpture and is highly responsive to requests for exhibitions and information about her career and her work.
Seven semi-trucks, a 94’ crane and forklifts were busy for two days unloading huge metal sculptures and pieces of an enormous cement-based sculpture that will need to be reassembled. “I have hauled all kinds of things all over the country,” one trucker said, “but this has to be the most interesting. I had people come up to the semi every time I stopped, all curious about these pieces and where they were going.” I found this coincidental since I too, had wondered what they were. I was sitting at my desk typing away on deadline rushing around to get the paper out last week when I saw one of the trucks go by on Highway 290 in front of the newspaper office. It caught my eye due to the originality of the pieces. I thought to myself, “What was that?” Low and behold, I received a call the next morning from Lorraine Benini that the shipment was to be unloaded. I received the instructions and headed out in the rain to watch this whole experience unfold before my eyes. It was amazing. I asked Mr. Eyfells how he felt about the Hill Country. He simply said “I feel like I can finally breathe. The space allows my mind to breathe”. I found that poetic and symbolic of how many of us feel about our wonderful Hill Country.