While Tiffany stained glass and Renaissance paintings adorn the space inside the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) on University Avenue, an entirely different display can be seen outside — drills, orange barrels and other construction paraphernalia have temporarily come to rest near the museum’s main entrance as MAG continues development of their Centennial Sculpture Park, a centerpiece for the museum’s centennial celebration slated for October 2013.
Planning for the park began in 2008, but until recently, much of the work was focused on commissioning artists and finding additional funding for the park. When the Campus Times first reported on this story in February 2011, MAG had signed on pieces from numerous renowned artists.
According to MAG Director Grant Holcomb, the park has not obtained many additional pieces.
“The only major additions over the last year have been the commissioning of work by Rochester-based artists Wendell Castle’s “Unicorn Family” and Albert Paley’s ‘Soliloquy,’” he said.
Holcomb described the work of both artists as fascinating. Castle has been regarded as a highly innovative artist and “the father of the art furniture movement.” His “Unicorn Family” exhibit will consist of a gathering area with a table, three chairs and a 13-foot LED lamp. In a press release, Holcomb stated that “as [Castle] is both a longtime friend of the MAG and an artist of international stature, we are delighted that his work will become a vital part of our new Centennial Sculpture Park.”
Paley’s 25-foot, stainless steel “Soliloquy” will be positioned at the Goodman Street entrance to the park.
“The Paley commission completes our vision of four new works by internationally acclaimed artists for the Centennial Sculpture Park,” Holcomb said.
Major visible progress has already been made. Certain artistic fixtures have been moved to storage until the park is completed and segments of decades-old wrought-iron fence separating the construction site from the Neighborhood of the Arts in which MAG is located have been relocated to the corner of Prince Street and University Avenue. According to Chief Curator Marjorie Searl, this seemingly negligible aspect of the project has been surprisingly beneficial.
“The whole neighborhood feels more accessible because these boundaries have been removed,” she explained. “The historic iron gates are much more visible and appreciated by moving them to the corner of Prince and University avenues. That intersection now has a character of its own and a substantial presence as you approach from the city of Rochester.”
Holcomb, echoing Searl’s sentiments explained that “the Centennial Sculpture Park has truly transformed the sense of space — it now seems vast and expansive as well as accessible and inviting to the community.”
Portions of the sculpture park will be completed this fall. New York City artist Jackie Ferrara said her work, “Path of Colors” — a brick and tile pathway that spells out “Memorial Art Gallery” and “University of Rochester” in Morse code — will be finished in the coming months.
According to Searl, additional developments are soon to follow.
“One of the major sculpture installations will be in place, and we will continue to re-install the original outdoor sculptures to their new locations throughout the coming year,” she said.
“Poet’s Walk and Story Walk” will also be opened soon. These artistic sidewalks will feature poetry and narratives that pedestrians can hear by dialing a code. UR English Professor James Longenbach is one of the featured poets. These walks are not directly a part of the sculpture park, instead falling under the management of the city of Rochester’s ARTWalk Project. Nonetheless, Holcomb considers them an important part of the success of the sculpture park.
“‘Poet’s Walk and Story Walk’ are unique additions to the overall project — Rochester poetry and history enhancing the experience in the outdoor sculpture park,” he said.
Hansler is a member of the class of 2015.