What’s Taken Up Residence In
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
“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.