September 18, 2014
In May, Emily Wilkinson, public art manager for the Texas Tech University System, visited ASU to introduce three dramatically different artworks to friends and supporters of the university. The artworks were commissioned through the TTUS public art program that since 1998 has reserved 1 percent of all new building construction and renovation budgets for public art.
“One percent doesn’t seem like much,” Wilkinson said, “but when you see how much a building costs, we’re getting a good amount for public art.”
ASU’s first artwork funded through the program was “Kinesis,” a twisting red ribbon of steel that was installed in March of 2013 on the University Mall outside the Ben Kelly Center for Human Performance (CHP). It was created by Joaquin Palencia of the Philippines with funding from the budget for the CHP’s 2011 expansion project.
“‘Kinesis” has a feeling of movement, like a dance,” Wilkinson said. “It swirls and soars. That’s why it’s outside the CHP.”
“It’s great to have all the art that goes on a campus loved because it is a big investment for the university.”
“San Angelo Heritage Mosaic,” created by Julie Richey of Irving, was installed in May of 2013. Depicting images of Concho Valley nature and culture, it covers a low 42-foot wall at the main entrance to the Porter Henderson Library and was funded from the renovation budget for the library’s first-floor Learning Commons.
The third installation, “SunHelix” by California artist Roger White Stoller, is a deceptively airy and graceful 20-foot-tall polished steel spiral sculpture. Funded from the construction budget for Plaza Verde, the statue sits on the University Mall just south of the residential complex.
The process for commissioning public art on campus begins once a building construction or renovation budget is established. A call for art proposals is issued, and the submissions are evaluated by members of the University Public Art Committee. A finalist is then sent for approval by the TTUS chancellor and ASU President Brian J. May.
“We’re getting lots of submissions, 50 to 60 per project, so they are looking through lots of submissions” Wilkinson said. “They have to look at every one. It’s great to have all the art that goes on a campus loved because it is a big investment for the university.”
In addition to its three new public art pieces, the ASU campus also features two artworks that predate ASU joining the TTUS. “The Quest,” a statue of an eagle launching into flight off a stack of books, sits near the Johnson Street crosswalks in the center of campus. It was created by ASU graduate Lincoln Fox to honor the memory of Dr. Lloyd D. Vincent, ASU’s longest-serving president. The entrance to the Junell Center/Stephens Arena is adorned by Rambouillet ram and ewe bronzes created by local artist Raul Ruiz and commissioned by the late San Angelo philanthropist Eva Camuñez Tucker.
Two other independent art pieces have also been recently added to the ASU campus. The “A-S-Ewe” sheep statue, part of the Downtown San Angelo Association’s Sheep Spectacular, has been redesigned and placed near the Centennial Village residence hall on the west side of campus. On the east side, the “ASU Ram Carving” that depicts ASU’s Ram mascot, was created by chainsaw artist Cam Dockery from the stump of a large red oak tree that used to stand beside the Rassman Building.
Overall, the TTUS public art collection now includes 227 objects worth an estimated $8.1 million.