Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Hubbell’s Humble Hovels: Annual Father’s Day Tour of Ilan-Lael Foundation
Artist and architect James Hubbell creates free flowing, sloping, sky soaring structures integrated into their natural surroundings and infused with mosaics, wrought metal, carved wood, stained glass, shells and gemstones.
Shelter Island’s Pacific Portal Gazebo and Trellis and its Pacific Spirit Sculpture are a few of his regional publicly accessible pieces. The Elfin Forest Interpretive Center, Glorietta Bay Fountain and Sculpture on the Strand in Coronado and the Briercrest Park Comfort Station in La Mesa are others.
Hubbell and his wife, Anne, founded the Ilan-Lael Foundation in 1982 to administer their private Santa Ysabel estate for public educational purposes. Since 1958, Hubbell has been designing and building a collective of small structures that have served as residential units, studios, and contemplative spaces for his family and artists in residence. The 40 acres site also includes numerous sculptures. Although the property still serves as his primary residence, the Foundation utilizes it as an educational facility conducting public workshops and special events throughout the year.
The Father’s Day Tour is an annual fundraiser attended by hundreds. The $50 ticket price enables continued public educational art programming. "We hosted more than 500 guests...and raised more than $21,000 for the Foundation's operations," said Executive Director Marianne Gerdes of this year's event.
The Foundation is currently conducting a capital campaign for the construction of the Archive/Education Complex to be built near the onsite chapel. The Complex will fulfill the Hubbells' lifelong dream of creating a place of “extraordinary beauty and purpose.”
Hubbell designs and builds structures that appear to grow from and that successfully integrate with the natural landscape. Apparent in all the buildings at the Foundation is the reflection of the surrounding oak trees and boulder strewn undulating meadows into his hand built low impact structural concrete, brick and mud designs. Undoubtedly the most impressive building is the ever popular Boy’s Cottage, which he spent eight years building for his four boys.
Two words come to mind upon exiting the casita: lucky boys.
As with all Hubbell’s designs, the eye is drawn appreciatively from first one element to the next. Like individual museum exhibits in a comprehensive collection arranged purposefully for affect, the white washed winged peaks of the roof, the gemstoned wrought iron weathervane, copper and blue glass cone that serves as the bathroom’s skylight roof, the reflective peacock mosaic or the heavy carved wooden door with its flaming red stained glass insertions—all stand alone pieces of art—create a sense of “sacred space”.
Utilizing natural elements, beginning with the contour of the earth and natural daylight, Hubbell’s designs aim to inspire. They have yet to fail in doing so if his list of awards is any indication.
Tickets for the sell out June event go on sale in February.
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