"Art is a combination of the holy, the profane and the present moment," muses Richard Yaski, a man who knows whereof he speaks. Starting his journey in art from Los Angeles' Chouinard Institute 40 years ago, the prominent Mendocino Coast sculptor, teacher, and driving force behind Shibui Sculpture Garden lives in the moment with his art and his life. In full welding gear, Yaski is a gentle giant as he melts and fuses raw metals into profound works of art in his towering Little River studio. The moment is rarefied: the sparks fly, his approach is bold and sure, his heart open to truth as it is revealed. The works that flow out of his studio are exquisite, plentiful and come in many sizes. Uniquely, Yaski is the only sculptor on the North Coast that is doing monumental outdoor metal sculptures and fountains on commission. Yaski gladly gives private tours of his work, located at Shibui Sculpture Garden, and his Little River studio, by appointment.
Yaski works passionately in bronze, stainless steel, painted steel , Cor-Ten steel, copper, aluminum, and leather. He sculpts with fire, metal and space. From a deep, quiet place inside, his art comes through him. He is a conduit, a birth father. Today, his art works are in collections that span the globe from Russia's Kremlin to the Detroit International Airport to the Mendocino Coast. Now, he is exploring using light as a medium, working with fiber optics, laser and incandescent lighting sources to integrate light into sculpture as an integral part of it, rather than just an illuminating agent.
For the last three years, Yaski taught welding and metal sculpture through the Mendocino Art Center at his Little River studio. He now teaches independently. When he teaches, his students emerge from class with far more than safe welding skills. His studio, home and grounds are couched in a majestic setting: soaring redwood forest, waterfalls, fern canyons, all enhanced by Yaski's superb sculpting of the surrounding terrain, creating a park-like ambiance. Next, as a teacher, he is extremely creative, with a wealth of information and inspiration to impart. Students in his popular "Found Object Metal Sculpture " class learn to see the intrinsic beauty of the mundane in our environment and explore the possibilities of rearranging their world in such a way to see it all as art. As a part of that process, they merge the mundane and the sublime, creating found art sculpture. Mindfulness techniques, meditation and breathing exercises are incorporated in the welding class to help students to focus and center on their work and see the relationship and connectivity of it to their daily lives. In his "Welding for Women" class, a "testosterone-free" environment enables women to learn welding skills and make art in comfort and safety, even if they have never handled power tools before. In fact, safety is emphasized and carried out in all of Yaski's classes, and Welding Safety certificates are offered upon completion.
A true 70's pioneer, Yaski arrived in Mendocino in a converted school bus, his home during the early years. To support his dream of becoming a metal sculptor, he first became a building contractor, designing and building his home, now considered a showplace, landscaping his land and adding a spectacular studio. From this extensive background, he took his organizational, project management, and teamwork skills into the field of architectural commissions. Consequently, Yaski has worked for years with architects, clients and designers creating custom architectural sculptural elements for the private art collector as well as the corporate world. He delights in collaboration, citing a house that was once constructed specifically to accommodate a fountain he built into the wall.
The Founder and Curator
Rounding out his contribution to the world of art and the community, Yaski has spearheaded the creation of Shibui Sculpture Garden, an extraordinary ten acre sculpture park, with two locations; one recently opened near the ocean, bordering The Ledford House restaurant, the other nestled in the redwoods, adjoining a 400 acre nature preserve in Little River. He plans to make Shibui the premier sculpture garden on the West Coast, with life size and monumental works of various Northwestern U.S. artists on display at the ocean location and smaller garden sized and monumental art in Little River. Yaski is innovating the financial arrangements, too, by taking a smaller profit than is usual, thereby increasing the artist's compensation as well as lowering the price to the client. Soon, we will be seeing a whole new generation of his sculptural style, as he begins to incorporate earth elements into his work. His artistic vision is telling him that earth elements are the right counterpoint for those clean Zen lines we have come to expect from him. And look for more copper and bronze pieces too, because, according to Yaski, the more they are exposed to the elements, the deeper they become… just like people.
Richard Yaski is available for commissioned work.
For more information and a class schedule:
Write: Richard Yaski, Box 333, Little River, CA 95456