It was a welcoming party nearly a year in the making for the newest additions to the USC University Park campus: a floating figure, an unpredictable fountain, a balancing sphere and a bench providing a moment of rest and contemplation.
Untitled Four, a four-piece public sculpture project by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Lere, a former faculty member at the USC Roski School of Fine Arts, was formally unveiled and dedicated to the public Nov. 6 after a 10-month rescue and relocation mission.
Commissioned in 1999 for the plaza on the north side of the Staples Center, part of Lere’s sculpture project was sent into storage two years ago. It was replaced with sculptures of athletic figures, which many felt was a better fit for the Staples Center and L.A. LIVE, downtown’s new hub of sports and entertainment.
“Mark Lere’s sculptures were relegated to the unknown,” said Gayle Garner Roski ’62, the namesake of the USC Roski School.
Roski approached Lere and worked with both AEGWorldwide Inc., the developer of L.A. LIVE, and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles to find a new home for the sculpture. She believed USC would provide the “perfect backdrop” for this piece that plays on the senses.
The USC community was heavily involved in the process. Lere prepared relocation proposals and the USC Public Art and Campus Design committee recommended the sculpture’s relocation to the University Park campus to the provost. Students in the USC Roski School’s Masters of Public Art Studies Program interned and assisted in the relocation of the project from its inception to the dedication.
With Roski’s vision and USC Roski School of Fine Arts Dean Ruth Weisberg’s blessing, the sculptures were moved to the lawn south of USC’s Watt Hall along Exposition Boulevard this summer.
“It feels like Untitled Four has finally come home,” Roski said.
The new, more peaceful location is better suited for the installation’s reflective, playful nature.
The floating figure, called the shroud, is a 12-foot tall bronze sculpture with a lighting element underneath which, at night, makes it appear to be gliding. The cone-shaped fountain surprises viewers with its sporadic bursts of water. The large, stainless steel sphere seems to defy gravity as it balances precariously on the lawn, and a rock provides a place to sit and take it all in, with an accompanying podcast that soon will be available to download from iTunes U.
The project is a perfect example of the re-siting of a public art piece, said Caryl Levy, director of research and special projects at the USC Roski School. AEGWorldwide Inc. generously covered all relocation fees, and the communication between the artist and everyone involved in the relocation process remained open throughout.
Untitled Four is one of several artworks slated to come to campus this year.