Back in 1979 (I think), when Nancy Jalonen was executive director of the San Mateo County Arts Council, she met Erskine Bufano, son of Beniamino (Benny) Bufano (1898 – 1970). Erskine offered to loan the Arts Council one of his father’s sculptures for display in front of the Manor House.
Nancy was told she could expect a six-foot cast stone cat, and so I built an eight-foot pedestal out of 1-inch plywood on the patch of lawn to the left of the entry and painted it to match the Manor House.
When Don Rich (owner of the Berkeley Art Foundry, Oakland) drove up with the Bufano sculpture, however, it was not a six-foot cat but a bronze owl, perched on the very end of a huge flatbed. The Bufano Owl was duly placed on the pedestal, where it looked a trifle silly.
After a year, Nancy Jalonen wrote Erskine Bufano that much as they loved the Owl, the Arts Council could no longer afford the insurance. He responded “not to worry” and said they could keep it on long-term loan.
About ten years later the Peninsula Sculptors’ Guild offered to build a proper pedestal in black granite for the Bufano Owl, and proceeded to do so under the direction of PSG member North West. Member Ante Buljan installed the black granite slabs that covered the concrete pedestal that North built. When the pedestal was finished, the Bufano Owl was moved over to the right side of the entry garden.
There was no further communication from Erskine Bufano regarding the Bufano Owl, and he died in 2010. Peninsula Sculptors’ Guild members have continued to care for the bronze sculpture, cleaning and waxing it periodically, and when the Peninsula Museum of Art (by then the occupant of the Manor House) and the 1870 Art Center (studio complex including PSG members) moved to Burlingame in 2013, the Owl migrated with them.
Co-Founder and Past President
Peninsula Sculptors’ Guild
Peninsula Museum of Art
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