New 15-foot sculpture greets returning Middlebury College students
MIDDLEBURY — When Middlebury College students returned to campus this week they were greeted by “Youbie Obie,” a large sculpture newly located on the northern edge of the campus, near Coffrin Hall and Le Chateau. Measuring some 15-1/2 feet in length and rising to 15-1/2 feet in height, the cor-ten steel construction consists of arcs and half-arcs in a rhythmic and commodious relationship that suggests a gate.
The artist, J. Pindyck Miller, a 1960 graduate of Middlebury, finished the original version of the sculpture — rendered in aluminum, painted white, and a full third smaller — in 1975. The cor-ten steel version that cane to Middlebury was donated to the college by its former owners, Drs. James and Lauma Katis of Greenwich, Conn., who commissioned it in 1984. The donors also provided the funds to move it from their property, where it has stood since its completion in 1985. The installation at Middlebury began after the conclusion of the Summer Language Schools and was completed at the beginning of September.
The sculpture was delivered to the campus on a flatbed trailer and assembled at its site. In addition to creating a secure footing and foundation for the work, the installation included a circle of shrubbery at the base of the sculpture. Ken Pohlman, museum exhibition designer, oversaw the design of the site and the installation, which was carried out by members of the college’s Facilities Services department.
Middlebury’s Committee on Art in Public Places (CAPP) was presented with the opportunity to acquire the sculpture last fall. In the past year, while the work underwent conservation, the committee deliberated on the best possible site for the work, taking into consideration its scale, its heraldic imagery, the warmth of its surface color, and the pictorial qualities it reveals to those who circumnavigate it. Fittingly, the chosen location, at the conjunction of pathways between buildings associated with Atwater Commons and the space enveloped by Bicentennial Hall, permits passersby a range of vantage points from which to view the impressive work. From its short side it appears deceptively flat, but seen fully on its long dimension it commands the space majestically.
This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of CAPP, which is charged with expanding the educational mission of the museum and the History of Art and Architecture and Studio Art programs by placing on campus compelling art works of high quality. “Youbie Obie,” the 22nd permanent work CAPP has placed on the campus, is a provocative addition to what is already widely recognized as one of the more important public art collections of any American liberal arts college.
About The Artist
Artist J. Pindyck Miller was born in New York, N.Y., in 1938. After graduating from Middlebury in 1960, he studied at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art. Over his long career, Miller has worked primarily in the modern tradition of constructivism, a style noted for the reductive simplicity of its formal arrangements, which often consist of purely geometric shapes or combinations of shapes. A painter and maker of mixed-media collages and wall reliefs as well as sculpture and sculptural reliefs made of steel, aluminum, bronze, and wood, Miller’s work has been noted for its witty allusions to architectural or even figurative forms.
“Youbie Obie” is one of his largest and, in the artist’s opinion, most accomplished works. Although the copy of the work that installed on campus is made from cor-ten steel, Miller has made other copies of the work in both aluminum and stainless steel.
Miller says he is both honored and delighted that CAPP has accepted his work on behalf of the Middlebury community. The artist had a solo exhibition at the Middlebury College Museum of Art in 1993, and one of his works, “Red Cloud,” has been a part of the museum’s collection ever since. His works can also be found in the collections of Vassar College, General Electric, and PepsiCo, among other institutions and private owners. Miller’s first solo exhibition was held at the Katonah Gallery in Katonah, N.Y. Since then, his works have been shown at many exhibitions around New England, including at Vassar College, SUNY-Albany, and the New England Sculptors Guild at Greene Art Gallery in Stamford, Conn.
A video about the work and its installation is on addisonindependent.com or via the museum’s web page at museum.middlebury.edu or as a link from the museum’s blog.
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