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Category: Stuart Collection

A photo-journal of the entire UCSD Stuart Collection

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This is the most useful of all the Stuart Collection items. Yes, it's just a drinking fountain. Actually, it's a refrigerated drinking fountain, and it's by Michael Asher, done in 1991. The fountain is made of two kinds of granite, and looks exactly like the fountain you'd find in many buildings. I guess there's supposed to be some kind of symbolism in this, with grass surrounding the fountain, & the history of the site as an Army shooting range. However, it feels kind of stretched in my opinion. The irony here isn't very strong. In the end, it's just a drinking fountain, one that's perhaps more interesting than most.

Snake Path

Snake Path

Continuing my Stuart Collection, err, collection, I've posted photos of Snake Path (1992) by Alexis Smith (careful with that link, the page loads many large images - it's very badly designed). Snake Path is located on a hillside just east of Giesel Library. It's made up of hundreds of shaped pieces of various kinds of stone.

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The snake loops over itself and inside the loop there is a bench with a quote from Milton's Paradise Lost. The biblical touches nonwithstanding, I like the path. It begs you to walk its full length like a British garden maze. The path has a definite central crown, like a road, which emphasizes that a real snake is three dimensional. It makes the walk down the hill slighty precarious, making the walk a bit more like an adventure.

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Terrace

Terrace

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There are only two items from the Stuart Collection located in the UCSD School of Medicine, one of which I've already profiled. The other is Terrace by Jackie Ferrara (1991). At first glance, this might seem to be a courtyard, but I think courtyards have many entrances to it, and this has only one side open. Is it a patio or a terrace, then? When I think of a terrace, it's high above things, perhaps on the top of a tall building in New York City. This is more of a patio - there are buildings surrounding it on all but one side. Perhaps when it was built 15 years ago there were fewer buildings around it; it is no longer a terrace in my opinion. It's hard to take photos of it now because the trees have grown large and wide. I suggest looking at the official site for photos when the trees were much smaller.

I have to admit I don't particularly like this item, or at least its location. It's off in a corner of the medical school that few people ever go. When I visited it I realized that I had walked by it a few times without even noticing it was there. It would have been better if this had been built where more people would notice it and use it. Since it does have benches and shade trees, it's meant to be used, and somehow I get the feeling that it is underused.

I do like the geometries of the bricks, and it looks like it would be a nice place to eat a lunch on a sunny day. Perhaps I should go visit it during some lunchtime and see whether or not it is being used by the medicine folks.

La Jolla Project

La Jolla Project

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Often called "Stonehenge," for obvious reasons, perhaps the heaviest item in the Stuart collection is La Jolla Project by Richard Fleischner, installed in 1984. It is a grouping of solid granite columns and beams which form mostly asymmetric shapes over a Revelle college lawn. Most of the parts are centered in one area, but a few are scattered over the entire lawn. Most of the shapes are tall, but there are some squat pieces, probably meant to be sat upon. Some granite pieces are laid to suggest decay, littered below tall, naked columns.

To me this art speaks about time. The granite was cut very recently (geologically) by a machine, so the cuts are very clean. However, parts have been arranged like they were broken to suggest the passage of time. But these fallen pieces still have sharp, clean corners that don't look old at all. La Jolla Project reminds me of Stonehenge, which was built based on the celestial calendar. This one should last longer than any other Stuart collection item.

La Jolla Vista View

La Jolla Vista View

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The theater (or is it theatre?) arts part of campus is on the southern tip of campus, which overlooks La Jolla, University Town(e?) Center, and farther into Kearny and Clairemont Mesa. Situated here is La Jolla Vista View (1988) by William Wegman. Follow eitehr link and you'll learn he's best known for his photographs of posed weimaraners.

As far as I know there are no weimaraners etched into La Jolla Vista View, but there might be. The large bronze plaque is situated to match the vista in front of you, with mountains and communites named so you can find them in the distance, much like something you would find in a national park. However, the labelling is unorthodox, and that's where this becomes art. "Barren Wasteland," "A Big Development," and "La Jolla Gateway to Hell" are some of the named sites. There are also buildings & business, which are much less permanent than the mountains and communities also named on the plaque. Much has already changed in the two decades since Wegman designed the plaque.

My opinion of San Diego and urban sprawl closely matches the tenor of La Jolla Vista View. I like the small touches, like a tree with "Meow, Meow" coming out of it. The telescope even works for free! Since this piece of art is hard to find and in a far corner of campus, it is perhaps one of the least visited. I encourage you to check it out, it's well worth it, and you'll learn some real & humorous San Diego geography (which are not mutually exclusive) in the process.