For years the iconic St. Francis of Assisi statue has greeted visitors arriving to Robert Mondavi Winery. Now the sculpture by Benjamin Bufano has company. A new piece of artwork—a sculpture to honor Robert G. Mondavi—was unveiled at the winery on March 18 by Richard Sands, Chairman of Constellation Brands, and Margrit Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Winery’s Vice President of Cultural Affairs. The 7-foot tall, 3,000-pound Robert Mondavi sculpture, created by artist Len Urso, was installed in front of the winery and presented as a gift from Sands to Margrit Mondavi in honor of her late husband.
Urso, an artist and professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, was commissioned to create the sculpture last year. Made from copper, the sculpture took more than 2,500 hours to create and was inspired by Robert Mondavi’s lifelong passion and attitude for life. Richard, Margrit and Len all agreed they wanted the piece to capture the late visionary’s unique spirit and strength of character. An evolutionary idea brought to life by three artists, Len, Margrit and Richard, the installation highlights the continuing legacy of celebrating art and culture at Robert Mondavi Winery.
“That Margrit can relate to this form in a personal way is very important,” noted Urso. “It acknowledges that I made the right decision. I see this as a sculpture in the image of Robert Mondavi and that’s very important.”
Born in 1953, Urso holds an endowed chair as the Ann Mowris Mulligan Distinguished Professor in the School of American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology. His work is exhibited nationally and internationally in museums as well as private and corporate collections.
“This came about very incidentally. Richard Sands and I were having dinner and we discussed the anniversary of Robert Mondavi,” recalled Margrit Mondavi, an avid painter and artist. “I suggested a life-sized sculpture of Robert Mondavi to put in front of the winery.”
“I’ve always loved Len’s work and artistic talent,” said Sands – an artist in his own right as a woodworking sculptor. “When Margrit and I first discussed this project, I told her we’d find a way to make it happen – and we did.”