What’s Up With These Sculptures on a Hillside in Summerland?

In 2022, Siteline had a nice piece about a great hiking trail in Summerland. I had done that trail just a few months earlier, and then I did it again with a friend just a few weeks ago. Near the beginning of the trail we passed by a fenced field with some large, strange sculptures—including giant grenades!—that weren’t there in early 2022. I took photos and consulted Google Lens, and I believe they are the work of Simon Raab. I thought you might know something about why these pieces are in that location. It is an exhibit? Storage? —C.

It was news to me. And extra credit for discovering the artist!

As you can see below, the artworks are visible from Greenwell Avenue as you approach the intersection with Asegra Road. To get a closer look, you can park at the Summerland Greenwell Preserve and hike up the Bella Vista Ranch Trail, which is currently rather muddy. (Continue on the trail for terrific ocean views.)

There are 12 or so sculptures behind a chain-link fence. I, too, wondered whether it was an intentional exhibit or just storage, for the artworks don’t appear to be visible from the house above (part of the Montecito Ranch Estates development). The property records do indeed show that Simon and Diana Raab are the owners, and Simon has a website about his work that includes this:

Simon Raab works in a unique medium, he coined and patented as “Parleau,” whose etymology is French for “through the water.” Multiple layers of colored polymers are applied to stainless steel and aluminum and then “crushed” or sculpted to give the appearance of an image just under the surface of water. The art is presented as either a wall-mounted painting with embedded frames, or as a freestanding volumetric sculpture. Raab’s work is characterized by brilliant colors, figurative abstractions, and most often conveys some underlying philosophical message.

As for the grenades….

Raab identifies with the symbolism of the grenade, as an expression of disruptive ideas and the change agents from which they come. They have the ability to destroy and disrupt and expose suppressed ideas, yet they are egg-like, bearing offspring, activated and inspired by the hand of man, defensive, aggressive, working in the name of good and evil, dangerous and inviting.

Besides being an artist, Raab is an “entrepreneur, inventor, and scientist,” according to Wikipedia. “Raab is the co-founder of Faro Technologies where he remains chairman of the board. […] Raab holds more than 80 US patents with associated foreign patents in fields of 3D coordinate measuring systems, bio-materials, medical diagnostics and computerized surgical assistance.”

When I contacted him, he said that he “was doing art for many years and switched back to my other passion of physics a couple of years ago.” And he sent this explanation for the sculptures on the hill:

These pieces are assembled as an anti-war monument. I guess they will stay there until a force majeure.
The pieces depict my frustration with humanity and a fundamental conundrum.
I am not a pacifist and I understand that when people are attacked they fight back.
They have being doing this for thousands of years.
The grenades are depicted as “flesh bombs” the story is a “twisted tale”
The grave stones are the results and also depict the tablets of Moses.
But we do not learn the wisdoms that should derive from these results of war.
The small rainbow is a small symbol of hope however there is always someone attacking
And someone always fighting back. It’s a tragic cycle of humanity.

Got a question you’d like investigated? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.


Previous Burning Questions:
••• Is there a master plan for the new walking paths in Montecito?
••• Why are the Thousand Steps still wet?
↓↓↓ What’s happening with Sola Street?
••• Why are trees being cut down above the San Ysidro Ranch?
••• Why is this lot on Milpas Street still vacant?
••• Where else do cruise ships that visit here go?
••• What’s happening with the Pepper Tree Inn?
••• What is this large memorial in Ennisbrook?
••• What’s the large building under construction next to Highway 101?
••• Who bought the former St. Mary’s seminary—and why?
••• What will happen to the SBPD building when the new building is completed?
••• How does the city decide to mark bike lanes?
••• What’s the story with this house on W. Cota Street?
••• What are those little houses on Santa Barbara Street?
••• Which Highway 101 exits are getting renamed?
••• Is the Music Academy of the West adding pedestrian gates?
••• Why does the Coast Village Road median look so bad?
••• What’s the point of this light pole near the freeway?
••• Why are the city’s parking lots scanning license plates?
••• What’s inside Paseo Nuevo’s State Street tower?
••• What’s the point of these markings on Laguna Street?
••• Why is there a giant red shoe off Highway 101?
••• Are we no longer allowed on the SBHS baseball field?
••• What does “SBTP” on this post mean?
••• What’s up with the “no e-bike” signs on local trails?
••• Why is Franceschi House in a holding pattern?
••• Why is there a train station inside this State Street storefront?
••• What’s happening with this derelict house in Summerland?
••• Why is there wood on some power lines?
••• Can you explain how sundowner winds work?
••• Why is there a pressure cooker attached to this utility pole?
••• What’s this concrete ramp thing on East Beach?
••• Why does “USA” get written on the street?
••• What are those poles in the ocean near the Ritz-Carlton Bacara?
••• Are people really allowed to set fires in the middle of Montecito?
••• What’s the story with the half-finished lot next to the Montecito Country Mart?


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One Comment


One of the most interesting ones in this series for me. Impressive what he has accomplished and his ongoing interest in the broader questions of humanity. Attempting to reckon with the dichotomous, sometimes demoralizing dynamics of resource contention and our sometimes-rational behavior in a hopeful way. When even a guy this smart can’t figure out a solution, you know it’s not easy… but respect the thoughtful meditation on the problem.