Robert Roesch’s Transition 2012 is the first of Florida Gulf Coast University’s public artworks to be added to cultureNOW, the online public art registry that encompasses more than 11,000 sites, contains more than 21,000 images and offers in excess of 1,050 podcasts by artists, architects, historians and curators about public artworks located nationwide. The registry is consulted daily by artists, architects, public art professionals and travellers from around the world.
Transition 2012 is installed outside the east entrance of Lutgert Hall. Installed on January 5, 2012, the modernist sculpture consists of five corten and stainless steel spires rising majestically from a bed of black river rock in ascending heights from 7 to 15 feet. Each ends in an LED beacon that sends shafts of light throughout the mall at night just as FGCU graduates will carry the illumination they receive at the university into the world beyond.
FGCU commissioned the work from internationally-acclaimed sculptor Robert Roesch, whose work can be found in museum collections worldwide. He has completed 20 major public art projects in the United States alone. His most ambitious U.S. project is Wind Spirit Gateway, which consists of ten 16-foot lighted stainless steel spires with two 20-foot stepped limestone berms, each topped by two 18-foot stainless steel shapes. Together, they serve as the gateway to the city of Wichita, Kansas.
“It’s the first thing visitors see as they enter the city,” Roesch notes with pride of the project, which took one year to complete. “To walk away from a site where you’ve formed the earth and left icons behind is just an amazing thing, especially when you’ve given it meaning.”
Roesch’s largest monumental sculpture in this hemisphere is Momentum, a massive 280-foot-long by 46-foot-high sculpture that sits at the entrance to Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. “It’s my happiest piece because it gave me the chance to completely stretch out,” says Roesch of the project, which is located across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. “The fan that’s located on one end is now the University’s logo,” adds Roesch with satisfaction, who finds large-scale works magical.
“I love, love, love building large works. There is a certain amount of joy I get out of finding my sculpture on Google Earth.”
Roesch reveals that Transition’s spires “represent the promise of great things ahead.” Metaphorically, the change in metal from the 3-foot bases of corten steel to tops of reflective stainless steel symbolizes the change that will take place within each student as a result of the educational process. The sculpture dovetails with the strong verticality of the business school and the surrounding architecture inside the mall. The spires, in fact, echo the grid pattern repeated throughout the mall.
The power source for the LED beacons also coincides with FGCU’s commitment to energy conservation and green initiatives.
“I favor solar power,” says Roesch. “In fact, 90 percent of my studio is powered by solar panels; everything except the hand tools I use. But when I came to FGCU’s campus to visit the site where Transition would go, I noticed an entire field of solar panels and was told that the university derives 20 percent of its electricity from solar power. So it would have been redundant to have the beacons have their own solar power sources. Instead, I tied them into FGCU’s power grid, but by making them LED, they cost a mere $2 per year each to operate, so they are both cost and energy efficient.”
Transition 2012 is but one of more than 80 sculptures, murals, mosaics, etched glass and tiles, batiks, paintings, prints, lithographs and fine art photographs that together comprise FGCU’s public art collection, which also contains 392 signed limited edition works on paper. In order to make information about the artworks and their creators readily available to students, faculty, visitors and those considering admission to the university, the collection is being registered with cultureNOW.org.
Once the registration process has been completed, cultureNOW will provide technical data, descriptive text, artist bios and photographs for each of FGCU's public artworks, with podcasts and videos to follow. The information is available free of charge to anyone with a PC, laptop or tablet. Better still, for just $1.99, anyone with an iPhone can download an app that will enable them to access the site along with associated podcasts and video while they are standing in front each piece.
For more information or to track the university’s progress in registering its collection on cultureNOW, please visit http://www.cultureNOW.org.