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Sunday, March 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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For art’s sake

State program helps fund displays across WSU campus

By Alexandra Graff Murrow News Service

The 12-foot blue heart statue that stands on the Washington State University campus has triggered many opinions since its installation in 2004 – some positive and some not.

But the statue’s little-known price tag might cause the most conversation: $391,440.

The statue, by renowned artist Jim Dine, is one of 31 WSU pieces paid for through a state program that requires state-funded building projects to set aside one-half of 1 percent of the construction costs for public art. Since the program began in 1974, about $34 million has been spent acquiring public art across the state, including more than $1 million in art at the WSU campus.

Now, the university’s campus art committee is considering the purchase of a 32nd piece.

Chris Bruce, director of the WSU Museum of Art, said he believes the committee has about $200,000 in the campus’ Percent for Art fund to acquire a new piece of artwork – anything from paintings to sculptures to temporary displays. A portion of that fund was recently added through the construction on the PACCAR Environmental Technology Building, formerly the clean-tech building on Grimes Way.

One proposal could bring a new glass mural to some of the windows in the Compton Union Building, a major traffic spot on the WSU campus.

Angel Nava, arts coordinator of Student Involvement, asked the committee to consider a joint project with the CUB Arts Committee to purchase a window mural by Seattle artist Steve Gardner, who is on the approved Public Artist Roster for the Washington state Arts Commission. The collaboration between the two committees would help pay for creation and installation of the piece, which could cost around $100,000.

“(Gardner) uses (his art) as an opportunity to tell a story, so he does a lot of research, and it’s very site-specific,” Nava said.

The piece could be created for the center doors of the CUB’s first level, she said. 

“It would be impossible for the CUB arts committee alone,” said Nava, who isn’t sure on the CUB’s potential contribution.

The committee discussed other potential sites, including placement at the proposed new location for the campus multicultural center.

“I think that would be a really amazing place to showcase art,” said Ana Maria Rodriguez-Vivaldi, committee member and associate dean from Student Affairs and Global Education.

Bruce said the meeting’s purpose was to establish basic goals and guidelines for selecting the art. He said he wanted to take a look at the wants and needs of both the campus and the community.

Some of the other campus art that has been purchased through the state program includes Brad Rude’s “A World Beyond” bronze statue along Stadium Way, which cost $77,967. John Buck’s “Red Horse Capture” was purchased for $102,220.

The previous art committee wanted to acquire work that stood out as art, Bruce said.

“The feeling was the art didn’t stand out and scream artwork,” he said.

He said he is open to re-evaluating the types of art the committee could potentially submit.

“From my standpoint we have not done a good job of representing the faces of our community and diversity,” Bruce said. He suggested artwork by women and culturally diverse artists.

The next step for the committee will be to finalize plans with the state arts commission. The committee plans to reconvene early April.

The Murrow News Service provides local, regional and statewide stories reported and written by journalism students at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.
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