This article is from the Spring 2008 Visitor's Guide. By Lorraine Benini Marathon, the longhorn, is fast becoming a landmark for Blanco County. When the Preserve at Walnut Springs purchased the sculpture two years ago, the owners moved it from The Benini Sculpture Ranch to the corner of Highway 290 and Flat Creek Road, for the enjoyment of the public, and to help visitors find the turn for the Preserve and The Benini Galleries and Sculpture Ranch. It is now likely the most photographed public art sculpture in the Hill Country. Marathon was created by Bettye Hamblen Turner who lives in a small town in west Texas. To date, she has completed four longhorns, each unique, welding with different materials including chrome, stainless and carbon steel. She is one of 30 sculptors whose pieces are displayed on the hillsides of the Benini Sculpture Ranch, near Johnson City. The project began as a study center for Benini’s work. Benini was born in Italy, and lived in 12 different countries, but he loves Texas like a Texan. He and his wife Lorraine moved to the Hill Country in 1999. He has had 160 solo exhibitions of his paintings worldwide, and continues to paint every night in his studio on the ranch. The galleries and Sculpture Ranch were opened to the public several years ago to provide an arena for access and study of contemporary paintings and sculpture, open free of charge to anyone who chooses to visit. The project regularly hosts high school, university and art tours throughout the year. ARTS Encounters at Beninis are held bi-monthly, the last weekend, beginning in January. At this event, speakers from around the country and abroad share creative expertise in fields ranging from the fine arts, medicine, literary arts, and nature, usually with a musical performance as well. The Studios Building on the project is filled with the paintings by Benini spanning almost 50 years, including his recent Courting Kaos and Face of God series – abstract works of bright blended colors and deep fathomless space - as well as earlier works of the geometric paintings, and depictions of roses that occupied his career for more than 20 years. Guest Italian artists, including Galardini, Calonaci and Inverni are regularly exhibited. Indoor sculptures, most by artists who have placed large-scale works outdoors, are also displayed. The hills surrounding the Studios Building feature 80 large-scale sculptures by contemporary artists. Sculptors from Texas, in addition to Turner, include Marshall Cunningham M.D., Willow City; Rick Cunningham, Lubbock; Jerry Daniel, Sanger; Johann Eyfells and Russ Thayer from Fredericksburg; Jack Gron, Corpus Christi; Zena Stetka Howe, Johnson City; Bobby Hamric, Randy Jewart and Patrick Lysaght of Austin: LaPaso, Kyle; Bob Fowler, Wimberly; Noblique, Galveston; Scott Sustek, Wall; and Michelle O’Michael, Houston. Pete Deise from Phoenix has installed eight steel sculptures that unfurl ribbons of steel from power bases. Other sculptors are from Canada, Italy and Paraguay. The Benini Galleries and Sculpture Ranch is open Wednesday through Sunday from ten to six. Other times by appointment. For information visit, www.Benini.com or www.SculptureRanch.com or call 830-868-5244.