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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

August 26, 2005

Can't-miss campus art

by Diana Pounds

The Gentle Doctor, Fountain of the Four Seasons, Stride, the G-Nomes -- these are household names on a campus filled with art. But there are 475 major public works of art at Iowa State, and even if you've been here a while, chances are you've missed something.

Lynette Pohlman, director of University Museums, recently offered these nominees for "can't-miss" campus art.

The Crucible

The art: One of the newest sculptures on campus, The Crucible adorns the entry to the Environmental Health and Safety Services building.

The artist: Brower Hatcher, Providence, R.I.

The message: The crucible reflects EHS' basic mission -- to transform complex (and sometimes harmful chemicals) into simple, safe molecules.

Viewing tip: View at night, when the sculpture is awash in light.


The art: This child-sized bronze fountain was destined for Ames' Brookside Park in the mid 30s, but funds weren't available to complete the project. The little fountain, named Joy, found a home in 2001, when it was installed south of MacKay Hall.

The artist: Christian Petersen, Iowa State's long-time artist in residence.

Footnote: The short-haired toddler on the base is little Mary Petersen, daughter of the artist.

unnamed sculpture

The art: This unnamed sculpture has been on campus for more than 20 years, but it got lost among the foliage in its old locale -- the Lagomarcino courtyard. In 2004, it was moved to the entry of the Gerdin Building, where it nicely complements Gerdin's modern look.

The artist: Julius Schmidt, a national artist with Iowa ties

The message: The artist isn't telling; he wouldn't even give his totem-like sculpture a title. But Pohlman thinks the art suggests a futuristic, Star Wars-like urban setting.

Rabbit Hill

The art: They call it "Rabbit Hill." It's on the southwest tip of Reiman Gardens and is populated by three large rabbit heads, patinated bronze. The 150-pound rabbits were installed last spring.

The artist: Deborah Masuoka, Omaha.

The message: Cute and spooky at the same time, the bronze bunnies are a reminder of our relationship with the cuddly garden predators.

Escalieta I

The art: Escalieta I, a striking work of art in the Gerdin Building lobby, was sculpted from marble in Italy's Carrara quarries. Michelangelo used marble from the same area.

The artist: Manuel Neri, San Francisco

The message: The figure emerging from the rough stone is in the process of "becoming," not unlike a college student

small plaster model of the Vet Med mural

The art: A small plaster model of what would evolve into the veterinary medicine mural that's on display in the Vet Med complex.

The artist: Christian Petersen, Iowa State artist-in-residence.

The mystery: Pohlman just knew Petersen's model for the Vet Med mural had to be on campus somewhere. She'd been looking for it since 1980. A couple of years ago, she got confused while taking her beagles to the Vet Med clinic and accidentally entered through the "large animal" door. There, screwed into the wall, was the long-sought model. Art conservators carefully removed the plaster and created several bronze castings of Petersen's early draft. This one hangs inside the south entry to the Vet Med complex.

David  Inyang

What's public art?

Those who wield the chisels, mallets and paintbrushes are important. But mostly, it's the scientists, teachers, secretaries and students who've shaped the public art on the Iowa State campus. See story.

Photos by Bob Elbert