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Romano Gabriel’s Wooden Sculpture Garden

Romano Gabriel’s Wooden Sculpture Garden
Eureka, California

Romano Gabriel (1896-1977) was born in Italy where he worked as a gardener and furniture maker. After immigrating to the US in 1913 and serving in World War I, he settled in Eureka, California. As he approached retirement, he found himself disenchanted by American norms and Eureka’s “bad” flower-growing climate. To ease both grievances, Gabriel began to fill his yard with bright wooden flowers and protest signs, mostly written in Italian. 

Over the next 25 years, his unique garden bloomed to include hand-crafted animals, carousels, soldiers, priests, trees, hula dancers, and numerous caricatures of well-known faces, most often the Pope who he heartily disliked. Gabriel was a very solitary man, but enjoyed watching people view his work, just as Isaiah does. He was known to sneak onto tour buses to spy on crowds that passed his house. 

When he died, the house was acquired at auction and the work dismantled. It has since been restored. Romano Gabriel’s Wooden Sculpture Garden is on permanent display in Old Town Eureka under the stewardship of the Humboldt Arts Council.    

Gabriel’s name appears in the Long Hallway in the outdoor sculpture garden at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. 

Resources:
Biography and photos
Video Romano Gabriel 2 by James Smith Pierce (3 minutes, 1976)

Button & Top Photo Credit: Denise Comiskey