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Public Art

by: Mike Quinn   (August 2002)

It all started at UC San Diego with the Sun God by artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the first piece commissioned for the Stuart Collection of Site-Specific Sculpture at UC San Diego in 1983. Now it is UCR’s turn to make the campus a stimulating and aesthetic garden for all who live, work and visit here.

In fall 1999 UCR established a Public Art Committee (PAC). The committee reviewed policies for public art at various university campuses and, based on those examples, wrote and adopted a Mission Statement and Public Art Policy in December 1999.

In May 2001 the PAC hosted a one-day symposium on public art intended to educate the campus, the community, and those interested in the UC system, about contemporary public art. It brought together experts in the field of Public Art from the UC system and elsewhere.

At the Symposium, David H. Warren, Executive Vice Chancellor, announced that the campus would commit $50,000 per year for ten years to the Public Art Program, with the challenge that campus support for the program be matched 2:1 through external funding.

Now the Public Art Committee wants to inform everyone about the possibility for Public Art at UCR. An excellent first piece exists already in the Highway 60 overpass on University Avenue. The Gateway Mural was completed in 2001, funded by the City of Riverside and the Gluck Foundation.

In the mural, John Werhle, a nationally know artist, depicted the history of UCR on one side of the street as well as of the history of the city on the other side. The commission resulted from a yearlong search by a campus-city committee for an artist. Today the mural functions as a welcoming portal that softens the impact of the freeway that bisects the growing campus.

When the committee identifies matching funding, it will assemble a national panel of artists and curators to recommend artists who will be invited to submit proposals for a major piece of public art.

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