Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Watch The Design Tourist Airing on

Found Objects Become Art in the Eyes of Famed Architect Carl Abbott

An Exhibit at the Art Center Sarasota, Shows the Sculptural Talents of Renown Modernist Architect Carl Abbott

IMG 3455
Modernist Architect Carl Abbott, an original member of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement, shows another artistic oeuvre in his exhibit Found Forms.

As the pandemic lingers on, I miss all the artistic stimulation as an art, design and travel writer. Most events have gone virtual out of necessity. So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that renowned Modernist Architect Carl Abbott would be exhibiting his sculptures for a short 3-day event in conjunction with SarasotaMOD Weekend. 

IMG 3480
Architect Carl Abbott and Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist, touring his exhibit Found Forms, a collection of blue painted sculptures made from ordinary objects.

“Sarasota in the 1950s was one of the most important places in the world for architectural creativity, where the greatest design movement of the day came together,” says Carl Abbott, FAIA.  “There’s a reason a handful of communities in the world stand out for architectural innovation.  Sarasota’s one of them.  You really do have to see it to believe it.”

IMG 3486
Found Objects, an exhibition of sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at Art Center Sarasota during Sarasota MOD Weekend.

Carl Abbott’s exhibit, Found Forms, hosted by the Art Center Sarasota, shows another side of this extremely talented architect, one of the original members of the Sarasota School of Architecture, a movement in the 1950s that produced an architectural legacy of regional modernism.

IMG 3473
Found Objects, an exhibition by Architect Carl Abbott, on view at Art Center Sarasota for a special 3-day event.

Carl Abbott is this year’s honoree with SarasotaMOD Weekend. “It’s a great honor. Hopefully, the attention drawn to the buildings and homes featured will generate more respect for them as architectural treasures deserving of preservation and protection. This is a challenging thing to do given rising land values in many of the places where these buildings and homes reside,” says Abbott, a passionate preservationist and active member of the Sarasota Architecture Foundation  host of SarasotaMOD Weekend.  

IMG 9647
Architect Carl Abbott shows Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist, his direction sculptures, North, South, East, and West on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Janet Minker

Abbott has built a career designing his signature modernist buildings and homes in and around Sarasota and his legacy is everywhere. During SarasotaMOD Weekend, his many architectural achievements were on view in self-guided driving tours. Abbott has also documented his architecture in a recent book, In/Formed by the Land, The Architecture of Carl Abbott.

IMG 3504
Ice Tongs painted in blue, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

“Sculpture and architecture both complement each other. The big difference between sculpture and architecture is that sculpture is not site-based. You can take the forms you like to work with and create. With architecture, I study the land, the way the sun works, and so many other physical factors that drive the design. A sculpture is a spontaneous work of art whereas architecture is calculated and methodical because of the building process. You have to work within the confines of building codes, structural and site engineering, mechanical and acoustical considerations,” explains Abbott.

IMG 3494
Found Object, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

To create his sculptures for Found Forms, Abbott scoured junkyards and his own garage for functional objects with sculptural beauty that he teases out by coating each object in a luminescent cobalt blue.

IMG 3467
Found Object, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

The color, expressed in powder-coated steel paint, is inspired by the flowers Abbott picked as a child, growing in coastal Georgia.  Abbott says he is drawn to objects that possess a knife-edge, a signature feature in many of his architectural works. 

IMG 3472
Found Object, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

What strikes me about Found Objects is Abbott’s ability to see the beauty in objects that are not sculptural by intention but as a consequence of functional design.

IMG 3506
Found Objects, sculptures by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

The blade of a hand push lawnmower is perhaps one of the most stunning examples with its helix design highlighted in blue.  A wheat scythe, ice thongs, a truck spring, and a hay bail, all ordinary tools and utilitarian objects become art at the hands of Abbott.

IMG 3503
Wheat Scythe, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

“My goal is to make people aware of the beauty around them as he points to one of his favorite pieces, a large double X he salvaged from the office of his mentor, the late architect Paul Rudolph, a founding member of the Sarasota School of Architecture. 

IMG 3505
X Slash, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

“The double X was the base of a huge conference table in Rudolph’s office.  I call it X Slash Two. It means two Xs or X with Rudolph and Me,” Abbott notes. 

Other works include the directional metal columns, each representing a point on the compass, North, South, East, and West, made of air conditioning ducts. 

IMG 3477
North, South, East and West, sculptures by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

“It is difficult for artists to transform found objects into fine art. Carl has made significant achievements with these sculptural works advancing the idea that found objects can be art objects,” says Elizabeth Goodwill, Education Director of Art Center Sarasota.

IMG 3499
Found Object, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.
IMG 3469
A bicycle wheel, a sculpture by Architect Carl Abbott on view at the Art Center Sarasota. Photo Credit: Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist.

The Art Center Sarasota has been in existence for 94 years acting as an artistic hub, offering classes, community spaces for local artists to sell their works and regular gallery showings. The Art Center is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic. It briefly opened to show Abbott’s exhibition during the 3-day SarasotaMod Weekend. At present, you can view the Art Center’s featured works online.

 

Picture of Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

Share the post on social media

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for the latest travel news and insider tips

Latest blog posts

Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

NATJA Gold Award

NATJA Bronze Award

SATW

NATJA

IFWTWA