Guide Puts ‘Public’ in Art
Few students and visitors at UC Davis skip posing for a photo with one of the Eggheads on campus.
But the egg-shaped, giant bronze heads by the longtime faculty member Robert Arneson are only some of the art that can be seen when strolling the campus. Art history graduate students Arielle Hardy, Justina Martino, Piper Milton and Brittany Royer have made these pieces even more accessible by creating the first guide to UC Davis’ public art. It is available at information desks on campus and on the website for the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.
“We wanted something that would be useful and interesting to a wide audience,” Milton said. “Other than the Eggheads, most people don’t register or engage with the art on campus, and we hope to change that. All of us had an interest in sculpture, space and landscape, so it fulfilled our scholarly goals as well.”
The guide gives insights into visible artworks like the Eggheads, as well as nearly hidden pieces.
Along with the Eggheads, Stone Poem by Steve Gillman came to campus in the 1990s through the UC Davis Art in Public Places project. Stone Poem, a Stonehenge-like structure near the Silo, was shown at the university’s Nelson Gallery in early 1989. Later that year, while being stored in Oakland, it was damaged during the Loma Prieta earthquake. The dozen huge stones were installed on campus a few years later with the damaged pieces made part of the work.
Bum, Bum, You’ve Been Here Before was created by the late professor Tio Giambruni in 1967 in the art department’s foundry. The massive cast bronze and aluminum spent a decade on the Russell Boulevard median and another decade in storage before being installed in its current location on Hutchison Drive across the street from Shields Library.
Among the hard-to-find works are the sculpted remains of a piece, This Redwood Tree, by Frederick Hirsch, Paul Taylor’s Cactus Suspension Assembly from 2011 that appears to be part of a water distribution system, and Joe Mannino’s ceramic Pink and Black that has been mostly hidden in the bushes outside the ceramics building for 35 years.