Four sculptures installed at Knowledge Center

6/11/2008 - By: Jill Stockton

When you think about a technologically advanced, state-of-the-art Knowledge Center opening on campus this summer, do you also think of art? If you don’t, maybe you should.

Four contemporary sculptures were installed at the University of Nevada, Reno’s 295,000-square-foot Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center June 9 in a project that has been in the works since September 2006. Featured in the garden are: Melvin Schuler’s Offset Forms 08, Randall Shiroma’s Remembrance #3, Michael Todd’s Punjab VIII and Boaz Vaadia’s Ginnetoy 2nd.

A generous donation from the Carol Franc Buck Foundation and some assistance from Turkey Stremmel, director of the Stremmel Gallery in Reno, helped complete the new sculpture garden in the heart of the University campus.

"The Foundation and our trustees are very proud to be part of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center sculpture garden," Carol Franc Buck said. "I am quite impressed with the changes the University has made to campus over the past 10 years. To be a part of that is exciting and satisfying. The new Knowledge Center is beautiful and it is a great leap forward for the library."

Thought provoking sculptures will help students connect, explore and create new ideas.

“I know people will embrace this art,” Stremmel said. “It will force people to think, question and contemplate.

“The same thing will likely take place when someone picks up a new book or accesses an electronic journal from the Knowledge Center. There is nothing else like this on campus. It will truly add to the vibrancy of the University,” Stremmel said.

When asked why she got involved in the project, Stremmel said, “Reno is my home and Nevada is my University. I was thrilled to work with Carol while giving back to my community and embracing my passion for the arts. When I work on projects like this, I feel renewed and excited.”

It took Buck and Stremmel nearly two years to select the featured works.

“Carol came to me with her idea to develop a sculpture garden at the Knowledge Center,” Stremmel said. “I assisted her in identifying the right artists to feature in the garden. We started by considering nine artists and worked hard to select the perfect four.”

"Working on the Sculpture Garden with Turkey was so much fun," Buck said. "She has impeccable taste and is so knowledgeable. All of the pieces in the garden are of the highest quality."

According to Stremmel, many traditional gardens that feature sculptures have a significant amount of plantings. They’re known for lots of flora and fauna.

“I loved the space at the Knowledge Center because it is contemporary,” Stremmel said. “The focus is on the art.

Stremmel added, “Schuler’s Offset Forms 08 will be the first piece patrons of the Knowledge Center see.”

Schuler is familiar with the University and was even offered a position in the art department many years ago.

“I had a really amazing experience at the University many years ago when I was asked to show my paintings and sculptures,” Schuler said. “While installing my work many students would stop and ask me if they could help. They worked with me and it was just a beautiful experience.

“After the installation I gave a talk to the students in the art program,” he added. “This was a real challenge to me because, at that time, I was a stutterer. When I approached the lecture hall, I felt completely relaxed and comfortable because I was so warmly welcomed. I spoke for more than hour presenting my work and answering questions.

“Following that, I was offered a sculptor-in-residence position by Charlie Ross in the art department. Ultimately I turned it down, but the whole experience for me was very freeing and it changed my life. This is why I am so delighted to have my work commissioned by the University so many years later. It is very fulfilling,” Schuler said.

Schuler’s copper over redwood piece is from a theme he uses often. It weighs more than 400 pounds, and it took his craftsman Ed Oliver more than four weeks to finish the copper work.

“My piece addresses the space between two people when they first meet,” he said. “The space between the bodies is often the most important. I have explored what is in between and what is going on in Offset Forms 08.

“I have to feel really good about making something. I think most people need some sort of creative outlet. When I am working I am transported out of myself and into another world. Time just flies by and I am fulfilled.”

Over time, Stremmel hopes to add to the collection and expand the sculpture garden.

“I think art literally lifts the spirit,” Stremmel said. “If you have a really lousy day or have been bashed around and then you see a substantial, beautiful and creative piece of art, you can transport yourself to another place. I do not know what is better than that.”

The Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center is the University’s most ambitious construction project in its 134-year history. The five-story Knowledge Center will be one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the country, including all facets of information technology in the digital age. It combines traditional library resources with the latest in digital and multimedia production technologies. This new facility is designed to foster collaboration, nurture creativity and stimulate intellectual inquiry.

The Knowledge Center will open Aug. 11. A formal grand opening event will take place Aug. 28.


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