August 20, 2004  


What’s Taken Up Residence In Panofsky Grove?

By Shawne Neeper

Balanced mid-stride over seismic metal shoes, sculptor Douglas Abdell’s welded bronze piece, entitled Kryeti-Aekyad, is making its SLAC debut in Panofsky Grove, across from the Cafeteria. Its jaunty, angular legs stand seven feet high and ten feet heel-to-toe. The sculpture comes to SLAC through the Stanford Panel on Outdoor Art.

Douglas Abdell’s sculpture, Kryeti–Aekyad, stands in Panofsky Grove. (Photo by Diana Rogers)

The artist Abdell—U.S.-born in 1947 and last sighted somewhere in Spain—created a “whole series of these works, these slightly geometric, anthropomorphic sculptures that sort of look like they want to run away—kind of playful,” said Hilarie Faberman, curator of modern and contemporary art for Stanford’s Cantor museum.

Like its brothers named Krefe-Aekyad and Aegae-Aekyad which reside at Wichita State University, this piece came into existence in the late 1970’s. The sculpture was donated to Stanford University by Gap clothing chain owners and modern art aficionados Doris and Donald Fisher.

“The Fishers are among the foremost collectors of contemporary art—especially large-scale outdoor sculpture—in the country,” said Faberman. “They have fantastic works at the Gap and at their private residences, and have been very generous to Stanford and other institutions throughout America.”

The Fisher’s artsy, playful donation caught the attention of Neil Calder (COM), director of communications.

“SLAC is at the very forefront of experimental scientific research,” Calder said. “It’s great that our site can reflect the forefront of experimental contemporary art.”

Calder joined the Stanford outdoor art panel last year to pursue his longstanding interest in art and science—an interest cultivated during his tenure as communications head at CERN in Geneva. There, he spearheaded a project that brought artists to CERN to prepare expressions on science, and “our rapidly changing concept of our universe, our world, ourselves.” The resulting exhibition toured leading galleries from London to New York. Calder approached ex-officio Stanford outdoor art panel member and Cantor Arts Center director Tom Seligman with his interest in having sculpture sited on the SLAC campus.

“This is a wonderful change for SLAC,” Calder said. “Thank you to the University Outdoor Art Panel for thinking of SLAC for outdoor sculpture.” 

The negotiations that brought this piece to SLAC took more than a year, according to Cantor painting conservator Susan Roberts-Manganelli. “The sculpture was identified as appropriate for SLAC by the Outdoor Art Panel, then Calder ran it by people and found fabricators for the mount, and seismic and materials needs.”

Kryeti-Aekyad rests on tiptoe over specially manufactured metal plates and concrete feet, for stability against earthquakes. Each foot starts with a 12-inch deep concrete block, said carpenters Dave Toews and Ryan Kuhn (both of SEM), after installing pine framing for the concrete. Toews said steel plating would be bolted into the concrete, to protect and hold the sculpture’s feet.

The steel plates are temporary. SLAC will install silicon bronze foot plates, matched to the sculpture, as soon as material becomes available. Over the years, Aekyad’s silicon bronze feet could slowly corrode if left in contact with steel. The difference in metals—steel against bronze—would act like a battery, slowly eroding the bronze by electrolysis.

The sculpture first set foot on SLAC grounds August 6. Next time you’re headed to the Cafeteria for a burger, take a short detour to Panofsky Grove and enjoy the view. 



The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday August 19, 2004 by Emily Ball