Special to the Palm Beach Daily News By; Carleton Varney
Artist Susie Phipps Cochran has a whimsical eye, that's for sure. We have seen her gigantic bronze sculptors of insects on the grounds of Palm Beach International Airport and foraging at the North Lake Way entrance to Casa Phippsberger, the estate home she shares with her husband Bob Eigelberger. Their home stands on land that once was part of the Phipps family's massive holdings on the island, which included 25 miles of oceanfront. She's a fourth-generation Palm Beacher; her great-grand-father was Henry Phipps Jr.,who with partner Andrew Carnegie built a steel empire.
Susie’s park bench series was one of my favorites, and her Hawaiian lady sculptures — a set of nine — are also high on my list of bronzes that I found colorful and charming. She’s been a sculptor for almost 20 years.
But she may have topped it all with her latest work, what I might call the Jolly Green Giant statue. It’s a garden pea pod, more than 20 feet long — yes, you read that right. It’s 23 feet long, cast of high-quality bronze and weighing in at 6.5 tons.
The peas in the pod have a golden finish and are all removable, should one or two be used as additional attractions on a lawn. But I like them all nestled together in their purple-hued bronze shell.
The pod is complete with wire-like tendrils, as if it were just picked. And at the base are leaves in a soft green, along with a some golden ants checking out the scenery.
She starts with a clay model, which is then scaled up bit by bit until the monumental size is achieved. The work was fabricated at the Robert St. Croix Sculpture Studio and Foundry in West Palm Beach.
On Saturday, the pea pod was one of the attractions as Casa Phippsberger hosted the Gentlemen of the Garden’s annual spring ball. The disco-themed event was chaired by Bob and benefited the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden, the Children’s Playgrounds of the Palm Beaches and other charitable groups. The Gentlemen of the Gardens have been wonderful benefactors for some years under Bob’s watch.