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Davis, California

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Discover campus art

You may walk or bike by UC Davis’ original works of art every day, but have you ever stopped to really look at them? The Aggie researched four campus works of art and one downtown piece, as well as the origins of these signature Davis works, which may surprise you.

Dutton Fountain (Outside Dutton Hall)

One of the first art pieces UC Davis students see on campus is the fountain outside of Dutton Hall. Its circular structure with a thin sheet of water trickling down the column is at times irresistible to touch.

SWA Group landscape architects from Sausalito, CA designed the fountain for the university. The solid, hand crafted piece cost $60,000 to construct.

Barbara Brady, director of communication ?for the Administrative and Resource Management of UC Davis, said as of now there has never been an official name for the fountain.

According to Allen Lowry, the project manager for the Dutton Hall project when it was built in 1999 and currently a senior project manager in the UC Davis Design and Construction Management unit commented on the piece.

“We did not want a showy fountain. Rather, [we wanted] a quiet pool with design references to the Arboretum waterway, animal watering troughs, the Central Valley wetlands in winter and early UC Davis construction aesthetics of simple and durable construction.”

  “The water feature is supposed to be an irrigation stand pipe that overflows and then originally was to flow north and south in a channel as it re-circulates,” said Sal Genito, director of Grounds and Landscape services

– Brittany Pearlman

“The Unfinished Dream” (Memorial Union Patio)

You might have inadvertently seen it while passing by to get to classes or glanced at it during lunch. The Memorial Union patio’s “The Unfinished Dream” has contributed to the color and social atmosphere of the quad on campus for over a decade.

In 1991, exhibiting artists Kim Anno and Miranda Bergman were commissioned to paint a piece on the Memorial Union wall facing the Coffee House. The piece was commissioned by the Office of Student Affairs and the Campus Art in Public Places Work Group.

Anno and Bergman collaborated in making preliminary sketches, brainstorming ideas and then executing this 20-foot high wall. The goal of this art piece was to promote and celebrate underrepresented populations.

More importantly, whether some students are consciously or subconsciously aware of it, “The Unfinished Dream” has become a major part of campus.

“The mural is a colorful depiction of the rich diverse culture amongst the UC Davis campus. I like it because it is visually stimulating and it educates the public on the importance of coexistence,” said David Lee, a senior design major.

And for some, “The Unfinished Dream” is still a new discovery.

“I used to not notice it on my way to class,” said Sovanna Pin, a senior biomedical engineering major. “It feels good to know that our campus appreciates diversity by dedicating a whole mural to it, especially at a place where a lot of people go to on campus.”

– Uyen Cao

“The Joggers” (Bistro 33, 226 F St.)

On the corner of Third and F streets sits (or rather, runs) Tony Natsoulas’ “The Joggers,” a bronze sculpture of two men jogging in opposite directions. The city of Davis commissioned Natsoulas to create the piece for the Art In Public Places Program in 1986.

Natsoulas said he wanted to convey a sense of motion and energy, especially in light of Davis’ interest in health in the 1980s. Because the sculpture is made out of bronze, he didn’t have to worry about its weight and was able to add movement to the piece.

“There were lots of people jogging then,” he said. “The motioning finger of one of the joggers is supposed to say, ‘Come this way, jog this way.'”

The sculpture was originally placed closer to the street than it is now. However, after one concerned Davis resident complained that the up-turned finger might poke out a passerby’s eye, the city paid Natsoulas to move it closer toward Bistro 33.

Though many DavisWiki users claim “The Joggers” is one of the most unattractive pieces of art in Davis, one Davis resident said she felt the piece was uplifting and represented the city well.

“I do consider this to be art – there’s something about it that seems energetic. Although I do think that could be misinterpreted as sloppy, I get the idea behind it,” she said. “Oh, and I see he’s wearing legwarmers. This was made a while ago.”

– Erin Migdol

“Shoe Salesman” (Shields Library)

“Shoe Salesman” sits by the entrance of Shields Library in a bow tie and offers you a shoe as you pass. This ceramic sculpture made by Tony Natsoulas in the mid 1990s is part of a series of sculptures by Natsoulas depicting various individuals sitting in chairs.

Natsoulas was creating a series of standing life-size people when he decided to make them sitting as an artistic challenge to himself. He found various chairs and matched the chairs to clay statues that he created.

“You try to imagine who is going to be in the chair and match the chair with the person in my brain,” Natsoulas said.

Although it’s difficult to tell just by looking, the Shoe Salesman actually comes apart in multiple pieces. His head, hands, shirt and shoes come off, although he’s bolted to his chair. Weighing in at 200 pounds the statue is broken down into pieces simply so it can be moved.

The sculpture at Shields Library is one of a series of 10 statues sitting in different chairs including a theater chair and a bar stool. The original owner of the Shoe Salesman donated it to UC Davis about 10 years ago while the rest of the series remains with private owners.

As a local resident and alumnus of UC Davis, Natsoulas has much of his art on public exhibit in Davis and Sacramento. More of Natsoulas’ art is displayed throughout downtown Davis and he has been commissioned to do pieces for little league fields and golf courses in the area as well.

– Kelly Krag-Arnold

“Bum, Bum, You’ve Been Here Before” (Outside Shields Library/Art Building)

This sculpture by former UC Davis professor Tio Giambruni is no small matter. Standing at over 13 feet tall and 25 feet wide, the cast aluminum and bronze sculpture stands by the Shields Library adjacent to the Art Building. Although its large size makes it noticeable, its shape and coloring making it almost indistinguishable from the construction that can be seen all around campus.

“I didn’t even know it was a piece of art,” said Tom Jackson, a first-year sociology major. “The first time I saw it I thought it was some engineering equipment.”

Giambruni (1925-1971) was part of the early ceramic movements streamlined by well-known UC Davis art professor Robert Arneson. The movement aimed to move ceramics away from function, like plates and vases, into actual art.

The “Bum, Bum, You’ve Been Here Before” piece was finished in 1967. From 1969 until 1976 it stood on the corner of Russell and Anderson avenues until it was replaced by the Bicycle that stands there today.

“The city of Davis had wanted to get rid of it a lot earlier,” said Renny Pritikin, director of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery and Fine Art Collection. “It was controversial, and they didn’t really understand it. But then Giambruni died, and they didn’t take it down for another few years.”

After it was taken down, “Bum, Bum” was dismantled and stored in the basement of the gallery until 1982. It was then displayed in the long-gone garden of the art department and resurrected at its current location in 1987.

The name of the sculpture comes from a Depression-era song.

– Anastasia Zhuravleva

THE ARTS DESK can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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