A selection of Pulic Art Proposals from Blackhawk's Artists

Widtsoe Hall

Science and Chemistry Building, University of Utah (1997). The architects, in what was then a very new process, had given out CG rederings of what the bildings, then in the planing stage, would look like. We developed our proposed sculptures, schedules, and budget, and sent back CG renderings of the sculptures in situ. We proposed three sculptures that fit the theme of the project and the locations specified.

  • One was "The Alchemist," a gestural bronze piece to stand in a courtyard and symbolize the joy of chemistry.
  • Another was a giant ADP molecule model that hung in the 3-story atrium. Paired with a phosphate model on the floor is encouraged students to think about the chemistry of life.
  • The third was a series of small bronze plaques taht explored the symbols and nomenclature of chemistry through out the ages. Virtualy all types from ancient alchemy through the modern sumbols of biochemistry would be displayed on the walls of the Reception Center.


School of Mines

Developed for the Montana School of Mining Engineering this piece was a hollow concrete sytlized mountain with a lighted vein bisecting it. Several options were modeled from an extremely simple three-sided pyramid with a single vein, to a multiple 4-sided pyrimid "range" with multiple lighted veins, and to a very chaotic non-pyrmidal "range." The prposal also included some neon high on the walls of the cafeteria, shaped to mimic the sculpture which could be viewed through the windows.

School of Nursing/Science

Developed for the Lake Superior College School of Nursing, which also house the Physical Science department, this project consisted of a ceramic and bronze mural covering the History of Science that ran the entire length of the new facility. It also offered an edge-lighted sculptural rendition of the college logo that could be seen from Wisconsin.

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In a general way, this shows our process for creating a proposal:

Concept or Inspiration for artwork: "Science and Medicine"

[ From the Preface:]
I considered a number of things for this commission. The history of the region was one quick line of inquiry, but I toured the facility and saw that this theme had been very successfully addressed pictorially by your magnificent outdoor ceramic sculpture, and also quite successfully symbolically by the impressive installation outside the main entrance.

Dismissing history as "having been well done," I then looked into producing a series of glass study tables with topographical maps deeply etched into their undersides, using Duluth, St. Louis Bay, and the surrounding area. I had done a similar project years ago and the effect was quite stunning - no longer a map, but a miniature world! Because the area would have been be broken up over several tables, this would have been, in essence, a puzzle, with viewers trying to intellectually assemble the sections.

I then looked at the new Link, which is such an impressive space, and I researched the fabrication of a 30’ hanging acrylic version of the school logo. This would’ve been made of 2" "T" strips of transparent blue acrylic, edge lighted with LEDs (powered by a solar array on the roof). This would be visible from the upper driveway to the main parking lot (and probably from Wisconsin too). The existing logo allowed me to design the sculpture in such a way that it "reads" correctly from below (by pedestrians in the link) as well as from the sides.

The glazed brick gave me the idea of etching a design into the brick (and resealing with polyurethane stains, colors, and even gold leaf). This could be done in such a way as to be very visually impressive from inside the link and from other buildings. I had not settled on a specific design, however, before I moved on to other ideas.

I toyed with the idea of a single bronze statue, either a highly abstracted generic Health Care Giver, or perhaps a realistically rendered person from history. The landscaped area between the back of the vending room and the glass entry vestibule would be great … except that few people will be using this entry. Also, unfortunately, the cost of a life sized sculpture would be beyond this budget, and I am afraid that a smaller statue would tend to be overlooked.

I looked at the hillside between the administration building and the new Health and Science building, but the required scale would have been too large for the time frame and the budget.

After touring the school and learning that, while art is deeply appreciated here, the collection could use a little filling out, it occurred to me that for about one third of the budget I could take the rest of the budget and the full time frame to find and assemble a significant, serious collection of paintings, sculpture, and other works by emerging Minnesota artists. This collection could be shown in rotation to keep it always "fresh" in the eyes of LSC students, and would undoubtedly appreciate significantly in value as many of these artist’s careers grew and blossomed. I would have built the catalog and display nomenclature too, of course.

I looked into creating a series of historically accurate nursing uniforms from the Civil war to the present, and either having these made by a restoration seamstress (displayed under Plexiglas), or producing artistic, ceramic copies myself. These would have been displayed in the long hallway on the southern, stair-step shaped wall.

I looked into a series of icons and relevant designs as inlays in the actual terrazzo of the floors, but when I contacted your flooring contractors I learned that they were already starting the installation, making it too late to make substantive alterations.

This idea of serial, iconic vignettes, however, is what I settled on for my proposal.