Centennial Countdown: Tom Otterness

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Centennial Countdown: Tom Otterness

MAG Commissions Major Sculptural Installation
by Tom Otterness

Proposed Centennial Sculpture Park photo rendering by Bayer Associates

A major sculptural installation by American artist Tom Otterness will anchor a new community park on the Gallery grounds, director Grant Holcomb announced in April 2010. The selection of Otterness, one of the leading figures in public art, caps a two-year search by the Gallery for an artist of national stature whose work is meaningful, engaging and accessible.

artist Tom Otterness

Otterness (pictured) is known for narrative works that are at once light-hearted and socially pertinent. His proposal for MAG—populated by monumental limestone sculptures that echo the surrounding buildings, as well as by smaller bronze figures—will tell the story of a sculpture from quarry to finished product. From its vantage point in front of the Gallery, it will also serve as a gateway into the museum.

The goal is for the installation and the surrounding park—known as Centennial Sculpture Park—to be open to the public as the Gallery counts down to its 100th anniversary in October 2013.

“The Otterness installation is the first site-specific sculpture in the Gallery’s long history and, with its sense of whimsy and wonder, seems a fitting way to celebrate the Gallery’s centennial,” says Holcomb. “The work will animate the site and serve as an enticing invitation to explore the grounds and, eventually, the treasures of the Memorial Art Gallery. The installation even seems reminiscent of the old town square concept where people meet to carry on public conversations.”

Preparatory grounds work will begin this year on several acres at the southeast corner of the MAG campus, near the intersection of University Avenue and Goodman Street. Installation of the Otterness sculptures is scheduled to begin in summer 2011 and be completed in spring 2012. The project, which is MAG’s largest art acquisition ever, will be underwritten by the Gallery’s Maurice R. and Maxine B. Forman Fund for art acquisition.

Work on the park also coincides with the latest phase of ARTWalk, a public initiative to transform the Neighborhood of the Arts into an interactive outdoor museum. The strategic location of Centennial Sculpture Park, along with the removal of portions of decades-old wrought-iron fencing, will help make the Gallery a more vital part of the neighborhood and open up the grounds for the public to enjoy.

In addition to Otterness’s installation, Centennial Sculpture Park will showcase works from the MAG collection by such national and local artists as Deborah Butterfield, George Rickey, Tony Smith and Albert Paley.

ArtDrop logo

Members of the community are also encouraged to submit images, poems, stories, videos and other art to the Democrat and Chronicle’s ArtDrop site. These submissions will be considered for spots in Storywalk, Poet’s Walk and other neighborhood improvements planned as part of the ArtWalk Extension Project. Learn more

At top of page is a photo rendering by Bayer Associates.

Read the press release

The Memorial Art Gallery’s centennial year is presented by Lynne Lovejoy, with additional support from Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull, ESL Charitable Foundation and Nocon & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.