meet the Cincinnati artist
Cincinnati sculptor John Hebenstreit is the son of two fine artists. John credits his artistic knowledge to decades of personal instruction from his parents. He began sculpting at the age of ten, working in modeling clay with his mother. At nineteen John received a full scholarship to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Industrial Design Program. He later attended the Cincinnati Academy of Design where he honed his painting and illustration skills. Yet he continually returned to sculpting, his first artistic passion, and that is where he has flourished.
Sculpting in bronze, terra cotta, wax and plaster, John’s work is figurative, yet most of his effort goes toward creating balance within a piece. Always concerned with relationships, he spends much of his time working directly from life. He often consults the works of master sculptors Gianlorenzo Bernini, Michelangelo, Andrea del Verrocchio, and Donatello. Like the Classical and Renaissance artists whom he has studied, John believes that regardless of the subject matter he is sculpting, it is just as important to design a piece of sculpture with its surroundings as it is to design a sculpture for them.
In 2007 John completed a bronze sculpture of the historical figure George Vanderbilt commissioned by Biltmore Farms in Ashville, North Carolina. This seven foot tall sculpture represents Mr. Vanderbilt’s love of nature and hiking in the great outdoors. The statue is located in the center of a park within the Biltmore Ramble once part of the original Biltmore Estate. Jack Cecil, President of Biltmore Farms and great grandson of George Vanderbilt wanted the statue to be at one with the natural surroundings provided by the park. John suggested this could be achieved by mounting the finished bronze directly to a natural rock surface rather than placing him atop a pedestal. Jack liked the idea and had several large rocks brought in. A template was worked up to translate the needed height differential and placement of the statue’s feet so that it would accurately match the rock surface. Now complete and installed George Vanderbilt once again can survey the great outdoors.
As the official sculptor for Guitar Center Hollywood’s “Rock Walk” John has sculpted many legendary musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kurt Cobain. Some of his other commissions include a life-size bronze bust of Cincinnati’s first African-American Mayor, Theodore M. Berry, for the Cincinnati Park Board; a life-size bronze monk fountain commissioned by Towne Properties for the Mt. Adams Monastery as a monument to one of Cincinnati’s oldest historical landmarks; two life-size figures for The Black Brigade Monument commissioned by Cincinnati Park Board for Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati, Ohio; an eight foot tall statue of William Plumer Jacobs the founder of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina; and most recently John was awarded the commission to design and sculpt the International Freedom Conductor Award for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.