A Bronze Sculpture, a Beautiful Space and the Woodshop that Brought Them Together

From time to time, we get to work on a project that’s all about art. We love that. We recently heard from Moberg Gallery on Ingersoll Avenue who asked us to give Des Moines’ Carole Villeneuve a call. She wanted to talk about the beautiful bronze sculpture that she had acquired to grace her home’s entryway.


The sculpture was created by artist jd Hansen. Carole told us that she first encountered the public art version of the sculpture on the corner of 10th and Walnut in downtown Des Moines. “The 10-foot sculpture of a woman with a bird in her hand spoke to me of freedom and happiness,” said Carole.  “I discovered a smaller version of the sculpture entitled ‘Intuition’ at Moberg Gallery and brought it home.”

Yesterday and Intuition sculptures by artist jd Hansen

Artist jd Hansen created the ‘Yesterday’ sculpture that graces 10th & Walnut Streets downtown. Its smaller counterpart is called ‘Intuition’.


Carol wanted to have a pedestal custom built to perfectly display her newly purchased sculpture. She asked us to design a unique and beautiful way to show off this special piece.


How We Designed a Complementing and Contrasting Base

Silent Rivers artisans started by generating several different loose design concepts for the pedestal. Some concepts were very sculptural, some very focused on the materiality. The process of developing these concepts allowed us an opportunity to translate the inspiration of the sculpture itself into how it was placed in Carole’s home. The goal wasn’t to make it match the house, so we explored some very contrasting ideas.


Tape on floor marks area where sculpture will site on its new base

The space in Carole’s entryway is designated for the pedestal and sculpture.

The Silent Rivers team envisioned the sculpture and the pedestal working in unison, supporting each other. Wanting the sculpture to be the feature, they made the pedestal to bring the sculpture to body height. The pedestal has it’s own presence, but it’s not distracting.


During the concept phase, the team found a piece of stacked birch plywood. An idea evolved — to create something that had a kind of structural framework and was a little contemporary, but then toned down by finishing the pedestal with dyes and pigments that would soften the look.


Unfinished stacked birch plywood for art sculpture pedestal baseThe angles of the pedestal are very active. So it both sits in the niche in the house and extends into the circulation space of the house. That line really helps to emphasize the gesture and the subtlety of the woman’s body.



Inspired Art and the Origins of Silent Rivers

One of the things that is inspiring about this piece – and some of the other unique things we’re doing in our woodshop – is that our clients have always found that our design is very personalized and inspirational.


Back in 1993, Silent Rivers made our first public appearance at the Des Moines Home & Garden Show. It was really one of the first things we did to promote the company. We had a tiny booth back in a corner underneath the escalator. We showed a trellis with an arbor, along with some other outdoor structures. Those projects were really an extension of the artistic voice that started this company.


Fast forward to today and now this artistic voice is evident in everything we do. Our whole house remodeling projects, our furniture and custom cabinetry and everything in between. In our design, we really try to go beyond the expected and extend ourselves to be something that’s more personal and very meaningful, but not too far outside the box. Good design still has to connect to the history of house and the root of good building.


Intuition sculpture of woman with bird by jd Hansen on its new pedestal base by Silent RiversThat’s what so fun about working on creating a perfect pedestal. It allowed us to be creative but pulled to our strengths as carpenters and as designers and artists to do something that supported a piece of art.  Just like a piece of art can support the house and its well being.


In addition to featuring our remodeling project, at one time we also showed sculpture in our tradeshow spaces. As we’ve grown over the years, we’ve worked hard to maintain this inspiration that drives us.  Come and talk to us at the Home & Garden Show at the Iowa Event Center on February 11–14. You will find us still talking about the art of building and the building of art.



See more of our artisans’ work by visiting the Silent Rivers Project Gallery and our Facebook page.


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