TERRE HAUTE —
As a crane lowered a 7-ton granite base to the ground, artist Brandon J. Zebold ensured it was properly placed to support the newest Wabash Valley Art Spaces public art piece, an 800-pound steel sphere named “ISU Sphere.”
The “Sphere” is on the south side of Holmstedt Hall on the campus of Indiana State University. The building has a curved brick and glass wall on the south side.
“The sphere is a really powerful shape, earth shape,” said Zebold, 47, of Seattle. “It just fit with the roundness of the building and the curves of the pathway. As soon as I saw the landscape, it was like OK, I’ve got to do a sphere.
“Spheres have a wonderful aspect where you have two sides. When you are looking through it, you see the side you are looking at and the opposite side,” Zebold said. “Then as you are walking around it, it almost creates a little parallax where it shimmers and you almost get a third composition out of those two sides working together.”
For inspiration, Zebold said he went online to research Terre Haute, looking at photos, illustrations and blogs.
He divided the sphere into four directional sides and then a top and bottom. On top, there is a star scape. The sides have a Sycamore tree, clovers, the book and torch and stars — a combination of ISU’s and Indiana’s state flag emblems, and a peony, which is the state flower.
A motif of the Wabash River is on the bottom of the sphere.
“My drawing style is kinda loose, so it takes people a bit to see it,” Zebold said. “Hopefully they can come back to it over and over and keep seeing more. ‘Oh yeah, now I see it,’” he said.
In addition, the artist’s signature, “BZ 2012,” can be seen on one side of the sphere.
The 5-foot diameter sphere is made of corten steel “which is a weather steel designed by bridge builders. It was designed for the East Coast because they didn’t want to keep painting the bridges. They came up with this alloy that rusts up over about three years from the weather” and creates a protective surface which resists atmospheric corrosion compared to other steels.
“Most people think rust is bad but in this case, rust is good,” Zebold added.
It took 835 hours to craft the sculpture over nearly eight months, Zebold said. He took the one-quarter inch corten steel to the Seattle Boiler Works which shaped curved plates, each weighting about 150 pounds. Zebold then cut out his artwork in the steel and welded the pieces together “like putting together a soccer ball.”
Zebold holds a bachelor of science degree in visual communications and a bachelor of fine arts degree in drawing and sculpture from Western Washington University. His work has been commissioned from groups such as Bellevue Public Library; Hotel Parisi in La Jolla, Calif.; the City of Redmond, Wash.; Safeco; and the University of Washington.
This marks his first artwork in the Midwest.
“The grounds are beautiful [on the ISU campus], and a lot of the other art on campus is really high caliber. I am really happy to be in this collection,” Zebold said.
Mary Kramer, executive director of the Wabash Valley Art Spaces, said the piece had been submitted two years ago for a spot at Rankin Hall. Another art piece was selected for that spot. “We loved the piece, we just thought the other would work good at [Rankin Hall]. We are thrilled to have an opportunity to put this up,” Kramer said of Zebold’s work.
“Since ISU was redoing this plaza, this was a site selected,” Kramer said, for the 13th public art piece for the Wabash Valley Art Spaces and the fourth Art Spaces piece installed on ISU’s campus. The art piece’s total cost was about $57,000, Kramer said.
In early October, Art Spaces will dedicate artwork called Mies Plaza, put up last fall in front of the new ISU Foundation building on Cherry Street between 4th and 5th streets. In addition, Art Spaces is raising money to put up a sculpture to honor Paul Dresser and the state song he wrote, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.”
That art piece is planned to be placed in Fairbanks Park near Dresser’s house.
Another fundraiser targets artwork to be placed near the Indiana Theatre along the city’s Arts Corridor. No specific piece has been determined for that site, Kramer said.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.