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In the Name of the Father

With a lifetime of artwork to draw on, Patricia Jump designed her Ventura home as an homage to her dad, the renowned sculptor Albert Stewart, and in doing so got to know him better than ever

By Allison Costa—Photos by Gaszton Gal

To take a walk through Patricia Jump’s Midtown Ventura home is like walking through an intimate art museum. Filled with sculptures, sketches, and carvings done by her father, Albert Stewart, the home offers visitors an up-close look at the life and career of this famous artist, world renowned for his animal sculptures, architectural work, and religious pieces.

Albert Stewart was born in 1900 in England, and moved to the United States in 1908. Over the course of his career, he created architectural sculptures for high-profile locations like the Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C. and the L.A. County Courthouse. His broad reach continued to New York, Europe, and even to Ventura, where he created a series of sculptures of the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church. In 1939 Stewart became head of the sculpture program at Scripps College in Claremont, California, where he worked for 25 years until his death in 1965.

Patricia Jump’s house is a museum of sorts, dedicated to her father, Albert Stewart.

Situated on a meandering street in the Ventura hills, with a clear view of the Channel Islands, Jump’s home is faced with a simple stucco exterior that gives no indication of the bounty of artwork inside. The house is open and airy in design, with light wood floors, faux finished walls, and a propensity for summery pastel colors. As one wanders the house, it is the artwork that grabs the attention, filling room after room: sculptures big and small, animal and human, religious and secular.

While Stewart worked in a variety of mediums—from stone to cement, terracotta to wood—the majority of his sculptures are in bronze. Jump’s collection of her father’s art is comprised of original works mixed with sculptures she has had made using his molds. Though Jump was always interested in her father’s artwork, it wasn’t until the 1980s when she remodeled her home that she began growing his collection in earnest.

1963 bronze “Birds in Flight”

When Jump remembers her father, her most vivid memories are of him in his art studio. “He was very reserved,” she says, “and really only interested in one thing: his sculpture.” As friend Donna Granata, the founder and executive director of Focus on the Masters, says, “Through his artwork, she really has gotten to know her father better posthumously than she was able to during his lifetime.”

In the home’s entryway, Jump points out a black figure by the front door: a tall, thin male figure that was a model for the larger, ten-foot-tall statue Stewart created for the Savings and Loan building in Pasadena. In the living room, one of the focal points is “Lady with the Lyre,” a bronze statue with a turquoise patina, the original having been designed for a college auditorium in Claremont.

1939 lithographs (bottom right) given to her by her father. “He spent hours drawing animals in the New York Zoo,” she says.

A trip into the basement offers visitors some of Stewart’s animal drawings, from a stocky wild boar to a leggy and somewhat whimsical stork. A massive gathering of eagles in black plaster offers a formidable greeting at the bottom of the stairs, while in the sunny and open Jacuzzi room guests meet a bronze tower of birds entitled “Birds in Flight.” Facing the piece, one can almost feel the upward movement—as if the birds have been startled into motion.

Stepping out to the pool area, the ceramic tile pool bottom becomes the focal point with its Italian-inspired, hand-painted tile design filled with spirals and flowers in bright blue and gold hues. Jump added the tiles (after having them hand-painted in New York) to the pool shortly after moving into the home in 1969.

This sketch was done for one of Stewart’s church commissions.

Alongside the house, the sculpture garden is a feast for the senses with its stunning ocean views and statues tucked amongst Mexican marigolds, bougainvillea, lavender, and birds of paradise. Meandering brick and stone pathways guide visitors past pelicans, a tiny curled fawn statue, an unusual “merman” figure playing the flute, and a curvy nude figure finished with a turquoise patina, all of which were made by Stewart.

Every nook and cranny offers a work of art with a story to tell. Jump recalls how an oversized sculpture of a female face, the only piece Stewart ever carved out of volcanic rock, used to sit in the garden of her father’s home. After a pine tree fell on the Egyptian-inspired sculpture, the jagged part of the figure’s broken head became part of its life story.

Jump salvaged this charcoal drawing from the trash 60 years ago.

Jump also shares the story of one of Stewart’s charcoal sketches hanging in the dining room. At the age of 13, perhaps foreshadowing the dedication to preserving her father’s artwork that would come later in life, she dug the rough drawing of a mother and child out of the trash in her father’s studio. Though simple and informal, the angular and rough forms become the perfect focal point for the room.

In the studio below the house, now most often used when Jump entertains and hosts fundraising events, visitors see a collection of black-and-white photos of Stewart with his sculptures. Bronze animal statues flank the fireplace, while a wood carving of a bear sits nearby. The bear, one of the few wood carvings Stewart created, is the last thing he made before his death in 1965.

Several pieces from Albert Stewart’s animal collection inhabit the Ventura home, including a bronze owl.

Because of its historical and artistic significance, Jump’s home has also become a regular stop for Donna Granata and her Focus on the Masters program. Visiting Jump’s home, says Granata, “is a heartwarming experience, and it appeals to all the senses ... it is beautiful, spiritual, and historical.”

Through Jump’s personal collection and her steadfast determination to honor her father’s legacy, she has created a house that is much more than a home. It is a hidden gem, a quiet addition to the Ventura art scene, and the true embodiment of a remarkable artist’s life story.

10-01-2011

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