New art structure to be built on campus in 2015

The structure will be built on the walkway outside of the Helland Center. (Photo: Kassidy Curry/City College News)

By Kassidy Curry/
Arts Editor

A new canopy is to be installed on the campus walkway between the H building and the T building by the intersection of Spruce Place and Harmon Place. The installment is being designed by architect Gary Johnson and Brazilian artists Humberto Campana and Fernando Campana.

The piece will be composed of 17 foot tall steel poles attached to four different benches already installed in the walkway. Up 12 feet will be a colorful zig zag design composed of fabric cargo straps.

The project is funded by the percentage of the MnSCU grant dedicated to art. The MCTC 2012 Workforce capital request set aside one percent of the funds($99,000),for the arts.

“We went through a process where we asked artists to submit ideas, then we whittled down to this idea,” said Project Manager Roger Broz. “So back when we asked for this money, all we did was say ‘we’re gonna spend some money on art.’”

Various different artists sent in their proposals for a new structure on the MCTC campus, but Johnson was decided upon through evaluation by an organized committee. Past aesthetics and personal taste, committee members also evaluated the lasting effect that the installment would contribute to the campus and the city as well as the maintenance required and practicality of installation.

“I think part of the fun of it was really looking at people’s different interpretation of how the spaces could be used and how their work could fit in those spaces,” said committee member Laura Andrews.

“The piece kind of acts as an outdoor room,” said committee member John Johnston. “It’s a space that invites and hopefully encourages people to linger.”

The architect Gary Johnson himself has actually attended MCTC in the past. He received his architectural training at Harvard, but he recently has taken two Brazilian Portuguese night classes to learn the language for his travels to Brazil. Through his architecture practice, Aventur, he is leading the design of The Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro, a private school in Barra da Tijuca, a famous neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.

“I think this campus has a lot of visual interests,” said Johnson. “Both inside the building and on the grounds, the building has a lot going on visually. This will be just one more element. I think students will find it interesting.”

This project will be the first permanent piece by the Campana brothers in the United States. They have had various pieces presented globally in such places as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. Johnson has been a fan of the Campana Brothers’ work and went to them for a collaboration proposal while he was down in Brazil this May. He went on an extensive web search to contact them. He ended up eventually receiving their contact information from a woman who had previously worked with them and had put that on her resume on the social media website LinkedIn. His favorite piece by them is one of their chairs titled “Coral.”

One of the goals of this installment is to strengthen the connection between downtown and the Loring Park and Walker Art Center area.

“I thought that this was a natural way to reach that goal, to get another streetscape element that would make the pedestrian experience from downtown to Loring Park just more interesting,” said Johnson.

This installment is planned to be built at some point during Spring or Summer of 2015. Weather conditions must be suitable to set it up. The installment should not take more than a few weeks.

“Public art has a social contract to it. It’s meant to engage the public,” said Johnston.

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