Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

My Writings

Periodically, I will write something related to art in general, but more often about my approach and my philosophy toward art. I have found through the years that a left brain analytic writing activity about a right brain creative process seems to help the creative process with a more whole brain synergy. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it makes me feel better.

Mostly, these writings are for me. For the reader they are a peek inside my head and heart. These writings may also help a prospective client discern whether I am the right artist for a commission.

The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades - Expanded Commentary

The Pleiades, 1885

Elihu Vedder (American, 1836–1923)

Oil on canvas

This series of sculptures is intended to be a collection of seven however, you are invited to consider a smaller grouping, or individual pieces.

The Seven Sisters of the Palisades, is a cluster of blue dwarf stars in the Taurus constellation. The Mayans believed this isa where the universe began. Today they are named for the seven daughters of the Atlas and Pleione of Greek/Roman mythology.

Long before I started thinking about this series I was a stargazer and one of my favorite constellations/star groupings has always been the Seven Sisters. However, the decision to name this set of sculptures after stars came after my decision to do a series of dancers/Acrobat's on poles. My decision to create seven and to name them after this star group came after a review of star name I found on the web. My Seven Sisters of the Pleiades dancers was completed before I found out there was a painting by Elihu Vedder with the same theme (above). All this may seem rather random and unrelated, but I see a bit of synchronicity in all of it. Whatever the case may be, for me, it feels right. I hope you enjoy my The Seven Sisters of the Palisades

The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades as a Fountain

It is hardly an original (perhaps most reminiscent of the Swedish artist Carl Milles), nonetheless I see a great opportunity and taking these seven figures, sizing them up to half or to full size, and placing them in a reflecting pool with each standing on top of a column, or better yet, a column of water. Their arrangement within the reflecting pool could be random, appropriate to the site, or place consistent with their arrangement of the Pleiades star system. This concept could be scaled up or down depending upon the context/setting of the commission. With the larger scale of the figures the indication of dancing tights could be made obvious for those that might be offended by the suggestion of a female nude.

It's a wonderful clear vision that I know could be spectacular in execution. Maybe someday.


We are a species of beautiful dreams and terrible nightmares. How they coexist is beyond my understanding. My understanding was challenged even deeper when I had the opportunity to visit the Guayasamin Museum in Quito Ecuador. It is a magnificent building dedicated solely to his works. And his art is brilliant. He is somehow able to make paintings of human suffering beautiful. This is what he says:

      “All my art goes around the tragedy of man.”

 “My painting is trying to reflect the reality of our times, which I consider the most monstrous

reality that ever has happened in the history of mankind.”

“To paint is to pray. To paint is to scream.”

This is my reaction: It is good and noble to use art to change the world for the better by reminding us who we are when we are at our worst. I can't. It isn't within me. I haven't experienced that kind of suffering. I also think it is good and noble to remind us of the best of who we are. Yes, there is ugliness in the world, but, we also need to be reminded of the beauty in the world. Art seems better suited to that role. My art is better suited to that role.

James Gabbert June 2011 

Hemisphere Series of Fountains Commentary

Dr. M.L. von Franz has explained the circle (or sphere) as a symbol of the Self. It expresses the totality of the psyche in all its aspects, including the relationship between man and the whole of nature. Whether the symbol of the circle appears in primitive sun worship or modern religion, in myths or dreams, in the mandalas drawn by Tibetan monks, in the ground plans of cities, or in the spherical concepts of early astronomers, it always points to the single most vital aspect of life-its ultimate wholeness.

~Man and His Symbols, Conceived and edited by Carl Jung; Part 4: Symbolism in the Visual Arts by Aniela Jaffe`, Chapter: The Symbol of the Circle, page 240

Considering the symbolism suggested in the above quote it seems appropriate for the hemisphere series to be the first non-objective fountains I have done. These are just as important to me as the figurative works. Integrating liquid and solid into a unified sculptural wholeness is what I’ve tried to do with most all of my works. To somehow bring a greater wholeness and unity to art that is compelling to the human spirit. 

My exploration of unifying liquid and solid has just begun. I’m excited by this because it holds so much potential for its symbolism and exploration of the human spirit. I know of no other artist exploring this realm. Practically every non-objective (and objective) sculpture I have seen falls short of the potential of combining solid and liquid with a holistic viewpoint. There may be artists who have/are exploring this realm and I simply have not seen their works. I would appreciate any reader suggesting a work or artist.

The circle is a symbol of the psyche (even Plato described the psyche as a sphere). The square (and often the rectangle) is a symbol of earthbound matter, of the body and reality. In most modern art, the connection between these two primary forms is either nonexistent, or loose and casual. Their separation is another symbolic expression of the psychic state of 20th-century man: His soul has lost its roots and he is threatened by dissociation…. But the frequency with which the square and the circle appear must not be overlooked. There seems to be an uninterrupted psychic urge to bring into consciousness the basic factors of life that they symbolize.

~Man and His Symbols, Conceived and edited by Carl Jung; Part 4: Symbolism in the Visual Arts by Aniela Jaffe`, Chapter: The Symbol of the Circle, page 249

In my mind, the Hemisphere Series of Fountains were always set in a square water basin. I read this part of the book after I envisioned the Hemisphere Series. Was I tapping into Jung’s “collective consciousness”, desiring to unify psyche with the earthbound matter of body and reality? Perhaps. All I know is it “fits”.

More will be added to this series over time. However, I do not know how extensive this series will be.

James Gabbert July 2009

The Tradition of Fountains: Tumbling, Spouting, or Bodily Functions

Most works with water fall into these categories: tumbling, spouting, or bodily functions. These are variations on natural expectations of water/liquid behavior.

Tumbling: Taken from natural waterfalls or rapids, these fountains/sculptures have water spilling out of a cylinder or other platform, or tumbling down a wall or sets of geometric or irregular shapes. They range from boring to sublime, but nonetheless, quite predictable. Examples:

Spouting: to be candid, I think this has its origin in men’s urinating. Come on guys, we’ve all admired our arch or moved from side to side to observe the “S” pattern. OK, so maybe it all happened after the garden hose was invented, who really knows? Examples:

Bodily function: spitting, peeing, lactating, it has all been done by sculpted humans. Add to this, sculpted animals. Examples:

Sometimes fountains are a combination of two or all three of the above, but not much else.

I want to explore and ultimately express the movement of water in new ways. It will always look natural because one cannot change the nature of water. However, I want to bring water and shape together in ways never seen before. I have had this ambition since college, almost 35 years ago. I find it remarkable others have not seen the possibilities of this viewpoint and created into it. I am excited.

James Gabbert July 2009

Aiming High

The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short… but

in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.

                                    ~ Michelangelo (1475-1564)

A number of people have asked me: will you be selling your works online or in an art gallery? I suppose I will in time. That would be nice. I will naturally be doing works for which that will be appropriate. But, I am setting my aim higher. I see my works being in a scale that requires an outdoor or a large lobby setting. If I “aim too high and fall short”, so be it. But, “setting (my) aim too low and achieving (my) mark” has no appeal to me. It cannot drive me. It will not allow me to become the extraordinary sculptor I desire to be.

Whether I achieve my aim or not will be for others to decide. All I can do is aim high, go where my heart and spirit takes me, and let the world do with it what it will. Then, “falling short” will not be failure.

James Gabbert June 2009 


Life is creative. It plays itself into existence, seeking out new relationships, new capacities, new traits. Life is an experiment to discover what’s possible. As it tinkers with discovery, it creates more and more possibilities. With so much freedom for discovery, how can life be anything but playful?

                                    ~from A Simpler Way by Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers

Spring provides no better evidence of life’s creativity and playfulness. We humans try to control too much. We fear too much. Life is meant to unfold. There are always new possibilities. Our challenge is to get ourselves and our “plans and goals” out of the way so we can see the possibilities, the better opportunities, before us. I don’t believe in destiny. Time is linear. Time travel is science fiction and prophesy is only a literary tool. I do believe in synchronicity and opportunity and creativity and free-will. I believe in forks-in-the-road and choosing “the one less traveled”.

When I begin a sculpture I have an idea, an intention, that wishes to be expressed. Yet, I allow the sculpting process to unfold. I let my creating interact with the created; allowing the unexpected to become purposeful and abandoning original intent when something better emerges. I wish I was better at that in life.

I believe that God, among many other unfathomable things, is THE Creator and S/He continues to create everywhere within every moment of existence. When we humans create it is an expression of God’s impulse within us.

James Gabbert May 2009


Water’s my will, and my way,

And the spirit runs, intermittently,

In and out of the small waves,…

~ Theodore Roethke (1908–1963)

“Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”

~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1893-1986

I see an opportunity to integrate elements of water into my sculptures in ways that have not been done before, in ways that integrate the characteristics and symbolism of water into the meaning of the work. My intention is to create works where the elements of water are central to the meaning of the work. In my non-objective works the question should be asked: where do the solid elements end and the water begin?

Most of the water elements I see in fountains seem almost incidental to the work rather than integrated. Traditionally, water is simply an expression of itself such as the rush of water and the Trevi Fountain in Rome, or something flowing out of a body part or the mouth of a sea monster. More recently, jets of water has been used as the sculpture itself, most famously the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas. Also, non-objective works with water cascading over forms have become popular. Many of these works are quite wonderful but they’re not my vision for my body of work.

My works intend to break from approaches previously used. I seek to create a more integrated and synergistic use of solid form and a creative use of water that takes greater advantage of the universal symbolism and natural dynamics of water than has been used before.

  James Gabbert March 2009


The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.

               ~ Albert Einstein

The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.

                 ~ D.H. Lawrence  

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

             ~ Kahlil Gibran

In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.

             ~ Phil Ochs

While beauty, is indeed, in the eye of the beholder it must also be acknowledged that we all share a common heredity, a common world, and a common Creator. There are undeniable elements that have us perceive beauty individually and collectively. One such element is the “golden ratio” found so frequently in nature, admired and utilized by the ancient Greeks. Beauty is universal.

There is a time in a place for an artist to engage the use of discord, dissonance, even ugliness. It seems to me we already have too much of that manufactured by mankind. I choose beauty. I choose beauty and only use discord when it is required as a component of a work.

James Gabbert March 2009

Beauty and the human form

In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.

               ~ Christopher Morley

Beauty in things lies in the mind which contemplates them.

              ~ David Hume

Beauty, of whatever kind, invariably excites the human soul to tears.

              ~ Edgar Allan Poe

I see too many figurative works of art today by sculptors who do not understand the human body, it is disturbing. There are brilliant contemporary artists such as Glenna Goodacre and Paul Granlund who demonstrate a clear understanding of the human anatomy. Such demonstrations do not have to be in proportion. To the left is a wonderful artist who understands human anatomy who has chosen to the elongate the body for beauty and effect. On the other hand, on the right is a Minneapolis public sculpture (Our Family Tree by Dean Kermit Allison) with complete disregard to anatomy and whose people are too stiff to be mannequins. Some sculptors do not understand anatomy and are unable to address anatomy, others have chosen not to have proper proportion and balance to their subjects. Realism is not a prerequisite to great art or great beauty. However, the human eye is conditioned to see and understand the proportions of the human body. It is the artist’s right to purposefully alter those proportions for their own reasons, however, it is wrong for them to do it out of ignorance.

  James Gabbert March 2009

Public art

As people live on the land, as they build their homes and temples, towns and cities, they form the world around them and into the shapes of their philosophies. Their social structures and spiritual mindsets take physical form – as mass and space, material and void – in become the world they live in.

               ~ Marc Peter Keane in the Art of Setting Stones

Public art brings variety, energy and life to our public spaces.

                  ~ Porter Arneill

[Developers] understand that incorporating . . . public art is an asset for their development. So in many places, this is not seen as a burden, but understood as something that adds value.

                      ~ Ricardo Barreto

The scale in which I envision most of my work require a large outside or inside public spaces. I am seeking the opportunity to take my works into public spaces with the support of corporations, cities, or patrons.

My perspective on public art is that it needs to be site specific - it needs to fit its site.

                 ~ Patrick Dougherty

I would look forward to the opportunity to work on a site specific project. If my philosophy and approach towards art expressed throughout this website is consistent with your upcoming project I look forward to the opportunity to discuss it with you.

  James Gabbert March 2009

Currently on Exhibit...


  • "Mother & Baby" in front of the new Mother Baby Center at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, MN..
  • "Hopes and Dreams" in the Hope Garden at Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids MN
  • "Soaring Bird: Peace through Service" in front of the Eden Prairie Community Center at 16700 Valley View Rd, Eden Prairie, MN.
  • Art Uptown Sarasota 1367 Main St, Sarasota FL 34235
  • Art Resources Gallery,
  • 275 Market Square, Suite 166
  • Minneapolis, MN 55405
  • Art Resources Gallery, The Galleria in Edina MN
  • Westport River Gallery,
  • 1 Riverside Ave, Westport, CT 06880
  • Private showings in my Minnesota or Florida studios by appointment.

Recent Photos

Send to a friend

Share on Facebook