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Roman warrior statue outside Weisman.

Roman Warrior guards the east face of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. The bronze statue was crafted in the mid-1980s by Fernando Botero, a Colombian artist known for his inflated human forms and animal figures. It is on loan to the University from the Gerard L. Cafesjian Collection in New York.

Feast for the eyes

U collection of public artwork continues to grow

By Pauline Oo

Published on June 16, 2004

He's affectionately called the Buddha, the fat man, that roly-poly giant with the, ahem, rather public, though subtle, private parts. His real name is Roman Warrior and he stands a menacing 12 feet, poised for battle along the east wall of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum on the Twin Cities campus. This bronze depiction of a gladiator by Colombian artist Fernando Botero is one of more than three dozen inventive and lasting public art pieces scattered across the University's campuses. The artworks may memorialize people and mark historic events. Or they may be expressions of social or political discourse. One of the U's first public art installations was the bronze statue of Governor John Pillsbury on the knoll in Minneapolis, which dates to the early 1900s. The University acquires its collection of permanent and temporary public art works as gifts, through commissions, or as loans from an artist or a museum. If an artist is commissioned, he or she is paid with money from a public art fund set up specifically for a University building. (In 1983, state law mandated that one percent of a state-funded building's construction costs must be allocated for public art.) A committee--made up of faculty, staff, and students--from the University of Minnesota's Public Art on Campus program chooses the artist and work of art. The U's public art program is one of about 300 of its kind in the nation. Look for the pieces described below the next time you stroll about the University. Like Roman Warrior, these artworks are fairly recent.

Pressure, Tension, Stress, Release Artist: Michael Cohen, 2004, glass and LED lighting Location: main entrance, University Recreation Center, Minneapolis This sculpture of six vertical acrylic and molded glass panels is best viewed--and appreciated--at nightfall. During the day, the sculpture is "at rest" and almost opaque. But come sunset, the sculpture is luminescent and breathes color. Green, red, and blue lights dance within the panels, illuminating the front exterior of the rec center with energy and activity that's similar to movement inside the building.

Untitled Artist: Susan Warner, 2004, painted terra cotta tile and metal Location: entrance, University Teaching and Outreach Center, Crookston This mosaic of ceramic tiles was hand-painted with images representing some aspect of agriculture--such as cows, horses, grain silos, and humans tending to the land. It reminds people of the way of life that is important to the region.

Cento Artist: Harriet Bart, 2003, glass and stainless steel Location: second floor, Walter Library, Minneapolis Hanging above the second-floor circulation desk, this 7-by-8-foot artwork is a salute to the books housed in this science and engineering library. Cento, which means a literary work made up of parts from other works, is a patchwork of glass framed in brushed stainless steel. Each of the 56 pieces of glass is etched with text and images related to chemistry, engineering, physics, and architectural details of the building.

Migrant Worker Artist: Gary DeCosse, 2003, hydrostone, wood, copper, ceramic tile Location: sunken courtyard, between Humphrey Institute and Carlson School of Management, Minneapolis Alonzo Morales, who works seasonally in Minnesota as a field hand, is duplicated six times in this circular sculpture. His stooped body supports a bowl, representing one of the most basic elements of food production. The repetition marks both the link between field labor and industrialized agriculture and the seemingly never-ending plight of migrant workers lured by the promise of income.

Gus's Bench David Culver, 2003, granite Location: southeast garden, Peters Hall, St. Paul This stone bench, installed in an intimate garden behind the School of Social Work, is a respite for weary bones or the scattered mind. But before you sit down, you'll find your fingers reaching to touch it. The locally quarried black granite is so polished it looks wet.

Untitled Artist: Bennett Brien, 2003, welded steel rebar Location: south gazebo, campus mall, Crookston (This sculpture will be moved to the new student center when construction is completed in 2005) At almost 11-feet tall, this eagle sculpture represents a stylized version of Regal, the Crookston campus mascot. It is also a tribute to the many species of eagles that have been sighted in the area.

Untitled public art in the works: Artists: John Roloff and Rebecca Krinke Location: College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Minneapolis Work for this major landscape design began on April 28, 2004. The artists are using stone, water, and vegetation in the building and four courtyards to inspire thought and reflection. Design elements include a mist garden, glass sculptures, and text panels documenting the geological origin of material used during the building's construction.

Untitled public art; scheduled for installation in August 2004: Artist: Seyed Alavi Location: Plant Growth Center, St. Paul Shaped like an apple seed and constructed with glass and steel, this 15-by-22-foot sculpture will house a tree. The artwork also includes a landscape design, based on the way plants grow, which will radiate outward from the sculpture.

Artists: Ann Hamilton and Ben Rubin Location: Microbial and Plant Genomics Building, Minneapolis Horizontal LED fixtures will mark the six levels of the building and illuminate the facade facing Washington Avenue with pulsating light that changes in color and intensity. The light is reflective of the noises and movement in the building, thanks to interior sound sensors.

Scheduled for installation in September 2004: Archiving Memory Location: Elmer L. Andersen Library, Minneapolis This 35-foot interactive artwork uses the library's archive of photographs and oral histories from Austrian, Jewish, and Christian survivors of Nazi persecution. It aims to foster public dialogue about the construction of archives and the practice of archiving.

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