If Jorge Levya’s garden gate is open, the public is welcome to come inside. It’s not any ordinary garden, and it’s not intended to be a secret garden either.
Levya wants you to visit.
The Joplin artist and sculptor has created a sculpture garden that includes five or six works in Levya’s front yard at 1305 E. Vandalia St. in Joplin.
It’s a labor of love by a talent who believes sculpture as art is lacking in the Joplin area. And he’s right. For all the many wonderful art venues and murals Joplin has, sculptures are far and few between, although there are efforts, including a new installation soon to be finished in Mercy Park.
If you have ever walked the outside trail at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas, you soon understand how captivating sculptures can be. Leyva plans to change the front yard view from time to time, cycling through hundreds of pieces to be on display or for sale.
Jorge Leyva, a sculptor and painter in Joplin, is preparing to showcase his latest works in a new way — by essentially transforming his front yard into a sculpture garden that he will invite everyone to see.
"I love when people are able to walk around the works in grass," he said. "I think it attracts a lot of camaraderie, a lot of community."
The sculptures, five or six in total for now, will be on concrete pads in the front yard at 1305 E. Vandalia St., Leyva's work studio and home. The public will be invited to walk through his yard — as long as his front gates are open — and view the artwork in a respectful, responsible manner.
Leyva said he felt compelled to create such a space for his works because although public art has taken hold in Joplin in recent years, he believes that sculptures as a public art form are largely lacking in the area. He noted that big cities often boast large sculpture gardens where residents can gather and talk about the arts and culture.
Jorge Leyva keeps a small collection of work by his contemporaries in the back of his studio. The short hallway between the office and his break room is decorated with paintings, pottery, sculptures and etchings from area artists Leyva admires.
“It’s somebody else’s art in my studio,” said the Joplin artist. “I’m honoring the creativity of other artists I consider my colleagues. It has nothing to do with how much they cost or how big they are. I invite them to come to my studio and live in the same place where I produce my own work.”
Sometimes I’m surprised to learn about “big city” type businesses or attractions that exist right here in our little neck of the woods.
Other times, I’m simply blown away.
This was the case last week when I walked through the doors of artist Jorge Leyva’s studio. My eyes instinctively lifted upward, absorbing the vibrant colors of the enormous paintings hung on the soaring walls.
Was I still in Joplin?
Certainly not, because the feast for the eyes that surrounded me was more likely to be viewed at a gallery in New York or Los Angeles.
Luckily for us, this talented artist chooses to live and work in our city. And, even luckier for us, he welcomes visitors into his studio so they can see his work.
Contemporary artist Jorge Leyva invites visitors to see his finished work as well as to witness his work in progress.
Metal sculptures and mural-sized paintings fill this full-time studio. From figurative paintings with metaphors for life, to the cultural influences of a rich and colorful background, his works are universal.
Call to schedule an appointment to visit the studio.
My name is Makenzi and last week we went to visit Jorge Leyva’s art studio.
It was a great experience to visit a local artist. We all had the privilege to walk though and talk with Jorge.
Towards the end of our visit we all sat down in his studio and did different sketches. We came together when we all had finished sketching and Jorge looked at all of our work.
He told each person what he thought of their piece or pieces. I drew a candle surrounded by darkness, to show that no matter how much darkness there maybe in the world the light will always win.
The main concept was to say that God will always stomp out that darkness. Jorge told me that by my drawing he could tell I had a lot of hope in life and that I seemed like someone who wanted to change the world.
All which is true. I really enjoyed going to his studio and seeing his art. He is a really cool and funny guy and I’m glad I had the privilege to go.