|The Monumental-Scale Sculpture Will Be 16th Piece in University’s Stuart Collection |
Commissioned in 2002 by the university’s Stuart Collection, an ongoing program of site-specific sculpture by leading artists of our time, “Bear” is the 16th addition to the collection and will sit in the new Academic Courtyard of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering.
An artwork that is also an engineering feat, the 20-plus foot “Bear” will be built of eight, uncarved granite boulders. Selected by the artist from a Pala quarry 60 miles north of San Diego, the rocks range from big to massive. The largest, which will form the bear’s torso, measures about 16 by 17 feet and weighs in at more than 201,000 pounds (or more than 100 tons). The torso boulder has to be moved at night with police escort on a 16-axle truck, the sort of vehicle used to transport space shuttle parts. The finished piece is expected to top 300 tons and reach the second story of nearby buildings.
Assembly of the sculpture is slated to run through the middle or end of May, at which time work will begin on the surrounding landscaping. “Bear” will stand at the center of three signature engineering buildings, the California Institute for Telecommunications and
“This significant ‘Bear,’ the 16th addition to the Stuart Collection, is the most challenging project we’ve done – even finding the boulders was difficult, and then the engineering was very complex. It has been a long time in coming and we are extremely pleased,” said Mary Livingstone Beebe, director of the Stuart Collection since its founding in 1981.
Hawkinson, one of America’s most inventive artists, is renowned for his playful humor and fantastic imagination – take “Balloon Self-Portrait,” for instance, a latex cast of his own body, turned inside out and blown up or “Bird,” a two-inch high, skeletal creature taking flight made of fingernail clippings and superglue.
“Bear” was sparked a few years ago by stacking some pebbles in his back yard into the form of a favorite childhood toy, a cuddly-looking teddy bear. The giant replica at UCSD Hawkinson envisions as a modern-day Stonehenge, he recently told the New York Times: “Sometime way in the future, people will see this thing and say, ‘It's like really primitive sculpture. What kind of primitive culture made that? Perhaps a bear-worshiping culture.’”
Born in San Francisco in 1960, Hawkinson studied at San Jose State and UCLA, and now lives and works in Los Angeles. His one-artist exhibitions have included shows at MASS MoCA and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.
A major and comprehensive mid-career survey of the artist’s work – co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and Los Angeles County Museum of Art – opened at the Whitney in February and is on view there through May 29. It travels to LACMA in June of this year.
“Tim Hawkinson has come into international recognition and we are very proud to have sponsored his first permanent outdoor public project – another first for the Stuart Collection,” said collection director Beebe. “It's going to be a truly memorable ‘Bear’ to be enjoyed and pondered by untold generations to come.”
The Stuart Collection commissions outdoor, site-specific artworks for UCSD’s 1,200-acre campus. The innovative collection is unusual in that the entire campus may be considered as sites for the artworks. The Stuart Collection is further distinguished from a traditional sculpture garden by integration of some of the projects with university buildings.
Major works have been completed by Terry Allen, Michael Asher, John Baldessari, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jackie Ferrara, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Richard Fleischner, Jenny Holzer, Robert Irwin, Elizabeth Murray, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Alexis Smith, Kiki Smith and William Wegman.