Gaucho Argentino

Story by Gianna Ross '20 Photo by Jessie Ward O'Sullivan, OPAC

Not many people know the story of the 7 foot, 800 pound Argentinian gaucho that stands at the entrance of Whalen Plaza at the Mosher Alumni House – until now.

Friends and family of the Argentinian sculptor, Teresa Farga de Corominas, gathered Sunday, July 22, 2018, at the Mosher Alumni House to dedicate the bronze sculpture. Corominas finished the sculpture in 1979 and decided to call it “Gaucho Argentino.”

César Fratantino, the Argentinean Community Director for the city of Los Angeles, shared the story of how the sculpture was originally planned to be placed in LA. However, concerns arose over the placement of the sculpture in a public place and eventually the idea of displaying it publicly was dropped. The original owner, Ignacio Bermudez, died in 1989 and left the piece to Stella Grippa Harter, of Camarillo. She had the sculpture stored in her garage for more than 30 years. Unable to find a home for the statue, the Argentinian community began to search for a place where Corominas’ work would be admired and appreciated.

Corominas’ son, Luis, knew about the legacy of Gauchos at UC Santa Barbara and it wasn’t long before the idea that the “Home of the Gauchos” might be the best home for this Gaucho. He reached out to the executive director of UC Santa Barbara Alumni, George Thurlow ’73, who was all in.  After 2 years of planning, Gaucho Argentino was placed on the Whalen Plaza of the Mosher Alumni House with additional funds donated by alumni Frederic Steck ‘67 and was installed by Delta Fabrication and Welding Alumni Andrew Vonnegut ‘92—truly becoming a Gaucho alumni family reality in April 2017.

Her son, Luis Corominas shared stories of the sacrifices his mother made and how important this sculpture was to her.  He says his mother would get up everyday at 7am and wouldn’t return home until 8 at night. All year long, she worked with her bare hands—fighting blazing heat and freezing nights. All this work caused her to suffer from arthritis in her later years. Luis and his brother would even model for her because she wanted the proportions of the Gaucho to be perfect. Unfortunately, Corominas passed away a few months prior to the recent reception. However, she was able to enjoy seeing pictures of The Gaucho at Mosher that Luis took to her and she expressed her gratitude in a memorable video shown at the reception.

At the reception for the sculpture, Thurlow began the event with some meaningful words. He said, “This Gaucho sculpture is symbolic of the ties we have to the peoples of Latin America as well as the rest of the world. I hope this Gaucho always stands as a symbol that borders can not shut us off from our common bonds, common traditions, and our common love of art.”

A little over a year since it arrived at UCSB, Gaucho Argentino has become one of the most popular places on campus for alumni, students, and visitors to take pictures.  There has also been an article published about the sculpture’s journey to campus on an Argentinian news outlet called El Suplemento.