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Public Art to Be Installed Outside PCAC

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
August 18, 2010

"Dance of the Ray" by Gary Haven Smith. Granite, 49" by 18" by 14"

The second piece of public art on campus will be installed in time for Homecoming, in a location that’s befitting the concept.

“Dance of the Ray” by Gary Haven Smith (’73) is slated to be placed outside the Paul Creative Arts Center at entrance that faces Alumni Way. Approvals are pending.

“It’s a confluence of happy circumstances,” says Wes LaFountain, interim director of the Museum of Art.

Those happy circumstances began to unfold during the planning of the museum’s auction fundraiser, “Raising the Bar” held in June. A painting that had been removed from the museum’s collection in the 1980s was found in a storage room. It sold at the auction for almost $3,000. Smith’s sculpture, consigned for the auction, didn’t.

A Museum of Art policy states that when a work of art is de-accessioned, the money from its sale has to be used to buy more art. (“So museums don’t sell art to pay the rent,” LaFountain says.) It was decided to apply the proceeds from the painting toward the purchase of the Smith sculpture.

In the meantime, the idea of putting a piece of art outside the Paul Creative Arts Center—an idea that had been floating around for a couple of years—resurfaced at the same time it was learned the small courtyard at the main entrance to the PCAC would be getting a facelift.

The installation still needs final approval from the Museum of Art collections and aesthetics committees, and the rest of the funds to purchase the piece and build a base for it have to be raised. But a member of the museum’s board of advisors has agreed to step forward with the balance if necessary, LaFountain says.

The work presently being done outside the PCAC includes replacing the asphalt with stones arranged in a circular pattern, and new landscaping. A granite bench and a large boulder will share the space with Smith’s sculpture, which, with the base, will stand about six feet high.

“It’s all coming together very nicely,” LaFountain says. “We hope to have everything in place so that we can have an unveiling at Homecoming. What a great way to celebrate the Paul Creative Arts Center’s 50th anniversary.”

The first piece of public art, the wildcat sculpture in front of the Whittemore Center, was installed in 2006.

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