University Art Building Pre-emptive Sculpture

While attending UC Santa Barbara in 1992, I noticed an interesting construction appear on a stretch of grass in the art building complex. A six-foot tall square column of concrete with 4 mounting bolts poking out of the top. It was a stand for some sculpture that had not yet arrived. It stood naked for more than a month and finally I decided to mount my own sculpture on it. I took careful note of the bolt placement and constructed a large wooden cross out of scrap lumber and dowels. I also purchased some washers and nuts to secure the sculpture.

 

When my brother Mike and friend Marc arrived from Sacramento, I convinced them to help me move the sculpture into place. We struck on August 5th at 11 p.m. After a few beers, we trucked the sculpture onto the campus. We carried the thing from the parking lot and hoisted it into place. I stood on someone's back and bolted it down. We snapped some pictures and ran off through the campus with glee. It looked great! Crude but dramatic, and absolutely like it belonged there.

We felt like we had just completed mission impossible and we stalked back to the truck using an alternative route.

Suddenly Marc stopped. He had spotted a security guard and he motioned for us to go back the other way. We ran around the dark backside of the complex. We encountered a tricky set of landings, and Mike fell, ramming his fingers into some ascending concrete stairs.

"Oh shit! Oh shit!" he said softly. "My fingers are broken!" I caught a glimpse of his hands as we continued forward. They were bent back way over away from the thumbs on both hands. He made fists with his hands and the fingers re-aligned themselves, but they were definitely damaged.

 

None of us had health insurance, and we weren't sure what to do, so we went home. Mike endured a painful night, and in the morning we went into town to visit Thrifty Jr. on State Street. Mike bought some finger splints for his middle and ring fingers.

Three days later in Sacramento, Mike got his hands x-rayed and found out that they had indeed been broken. His delayed trip to the hospital cost about $900.

 

The sculpture stayed up for a couple of months, but was eventually replaced by a steel kinetic sculpture by George Rickey.

I don't know what happened to my wooden masterpiece, but I'll bet it is still at the UCSB art department.

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