International sculptor joins artists tour

Lisbeth Sabol
Lisbeth Sabol

If you are looking for sculpture that expresses the soul, look no further than the Main Street, Washington studio of Lisbeth Sabol. Sabol and her studio mate, Robert — a green Amazon parrot — will greet visitors as one of the new artists on the Nov. 7-8 Artists of Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour.

Although Sabol’s roots are deep in Rappahannock, she only returned last year from living and sculpting in various states, New Zealand and Italy. Her figurative bronzes have garnered not only praise but also collectors internationally. Many of her collectors are women, who are drawn to her evocative figures. Her work is also in many public parks.

“My focus is on the depth of expressiveness of the figure,” said Sabol, who sculpts in the classical style of Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, two artists she admires.

“I think women sculptors bring a special depth of feeling to the female figure, perhaps because they are women,” said Sabol, noting that male artists tend to objectify women. This can certainly be seen in her art. One, titled “Joy,” is particularly expressive; another depicts a woman bending backwards. in a graceful pose. “I like this one because, despite the pose, she does not break,” said Sabol, noting that the inspiration came at a difficult time in her life — “but I did not break.”

Sabol found her artistic path at William & Mary, where she earned a degree in fine arts. While she started in welded and stone art, today she works primarily in wax and clay, often sculpting diminutive figures that are cast in bronze in limited editions.

One of Sabol's mermaid bronzes that will be on display at her studio on Washington's Main Street in November.
One of Sabol’s mermaid bronzes that will be on display at her studio on Washington’s Main Street in November. Courtesy photo

But she is no amateur when it comes to working in stone. She was sculptor-in-residence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where she demonstrated how stone portraits are made to the park’s visitors. Another coup was to be selected for New Zealand’s Tareitanga International Sculpture Symposium. This event showcases stone-carvers from around the world. She was given her own two-ton block of stone and a month to carve a figurative sculpture.

When asked how she found the subject to carve in such a large stone, Sabol said, “The stone speaks to you; it is such an ancient material.” But it is also unforgiving, she noted, because it is difficult to correct mistakes.

If Sabol’s muse is the human figure, the inspiration for the two other Washington artists who will have open studios would be color and light for Kevin Adams, and wood for Peter Kramer. Adams, an architectural and landscape artist, often paints the same image at different times of day, much like Van Gogh and his haystacks. “The houses are just a tool.  . . . It’s a process to talk about the air,” Adams  explained of a Cape Cod series, referring to the weather, light and seashore humidity.

Peter Kramer, who has been featured in the New York Times and Architectural Digest, finds his muse in the grain of fine wood. His exquisite cabinetry pieces are works of art that are sought after by collectors.

In addition to the three artists’ studios, the town’s three galleries will have special exhibits for the tour. R.H. Ballard Gallery will showcase plein air artist Clive Pate and ceramicist Virginia Pate. Their work focuses on the Piedmont region, for which the couple received a Mitchell Arts Fund grant from the Rappahannock Association for Art and Community, which also sponsors the annual tour.

The gallery also will feature the works of Thomas Mullany, whose Flint Hill studio is also on the tour, and those of artist and gallery owner Robert Ballard.

At the new Gay Street Gallery, in the former Stonyman Gourmet space adjacent to Adams’ studio, the works of former Rappahannock resident June Jordan and sculptor Robert Bouquet will be on display, while the Geneva Welch Gallery will have new creations of artist Welch’s popular rural landscapes and farm animals, as well as hand-painted Christmas ornaments.

For more about the tour and other RAAC programs, visit