Appreciate art like a cyclist

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Bicyclists ventured all over campus in a one-of-a-kind tour Saturday to learn about the public works of art that often go overlooked.

The University’s Landmarks program, in conjunction with Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, hosted a bike tour that educated 16 bicyclists about five of the works. The Landmarks program, a public art initiative started in 2008, displays works of art on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and pieces created especially for the UT campus.

Christina Liu, a graduate accounting student, said the tour made her more aware of the art on campus, which she said she had never really thought about in her years at UT.

“You’re on your way to class, so you don’t really have time, so you don’t really pay attention to it,” Liu said. “Since I’m in the business school, I pretty much stay in one area, so I don’t go to that many places on campus.”

The tour included Mark di Suvero’s “Clock Knot,” an abstract red-orange steel sculpture in front of the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Building. Lisa Pulsifer, associate curator for education and public engagement at the Harry Ransom Center, said di Suvero wanted viewers to engage with the sculpture for a long time.

“By walking around it and under it, it takes more time than just glancing at a painting or photograph,” Pulsifer said.

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s “Figure on a Trunk,” located in front of the Bass Concert Hall, was the only sculpture depicting the human figure on the tour. The work reflects the artist’s interest in the de-individuality she experienced growing up under Nazi occupation and Communist rule in Poland, Pulsifer said.

“In some cases, what she’ll do is she’ll create a whole row or several rows of the same figure cast again and again and again,” Pulsifer said. “Here, we’re talking about the individual or lack of individuality, and you really get that sense when you have a whole group of them.”

Landmarks external affairs coordinator Leah Griffin said the tour helps bring the broader Austin community to the UT campus.

“I think it’s an opportunity for them to learn about modern art in ways that they haven’t before,” Griffin said. “It’s pretty relaxed and easygoing.”

Eileen Schaubert, advocacy and community outreach director for Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, said the tour could encourage people to ride bikes.

“There’s a lot of people that are afraid to ride on the road, and so the routes that we take them [on] are very user-friendly,” Schaubert said. “It’s just something really enjoyable to do on your bike.”

Published on October 10, 2011: "Bicyclists tour UT campus, learn about public artwork"