Come walk the latest renovation of the SOU landscape off Indiana Street between the Student Health Center and Art Building. It features added pathways lined with trees, shrubs and a light post to illuminate the four sculpture pads set as the garden's focal.
Three of the four sculpture pads feature permanent art pieces, and the last one is for student pieces on a rotational basis.
"What we like about these three pieces installed together, formally speaking, we transition from total abstraction to a surrealist semi-abstracted figure based artwork, to a representational piece, as well as a shift in scale," said Scott Malbaurn, Director of Schneider Art Museum.
The three permanent art pieces respectively, are titled "American Pastoral" by Adam Bateman, "Bronze Arch II" or "Rodica" by Ella Tulin, and "Small Pile" by Malia Jensen. Bateman's piece was created with the help of Creative Art Students to represent the Rogue Valley's agricultural past. It's the largest piece of the three, made of recycled pasture irrigation wheels, and related to Bateman's other project titled "As the Rose." Tulin's piece is iconic of her work known for “"...voluptuous, weighty, ironic and humorous figurines..." found in both private and public collections. This piece specifically of Tulin's was donated to SOU by Ann K. Macrory. Jensen's piece was acquired through Oregon Arts Commission Artworks Acquisition Grant and was featured in the Schneider Museum back in Winter 2016. Her work is known for being "...metaphorically rife, contradictory, and often times, perplexing…" These elements have made her a world-renowned artist.
The Schneider Museum of Art partnered with Facilities Management and Planning to get the tractor rolling, and shovels digging. Mario and Edie Campagna funded the original garden which is dedicated to Mario’s mother, Mary Campagna. The Campagna family is a strong supporter of SOU.
Kyle Riggs of the Landscape Services Department is spearheading the redesign of the Mary Campagna Sculpture Garden, picking out the plants, deciding where they go, and redesigning the irrigation system.
"It was a shame to be the first thing to see turning into the art building, was a weedy eyesore," said Riggs, commenting on what was here before the redesign.
Riggs' design highlights the SOU Landscape Department's commitment towards sustainability by selectively choosing drought tolerant and pollinator-friendly plants. The plants are mostly native with a few non-native pollinator specific species. The trees have been strategically placed so as they mature, they will provide shade to the Art Building to reduce the energy required to cool the building in summer. The shrubbery after two years of growth, will fill in and provide ground cover between the pathways to reduce weeds. Riggs also updated the irrigation to drip lines to save water, replacing traditional sprinklers with the assistance of Cal McRoberts, another valued team member of the Landscape Services Department at SOU.
The new trees will be added to the SOU Botanical Tour in the future, which was unveiled back in October.
What was planted here before the redesign were columns of Italian Cypresses, shrubbery, and maple trees along the street - which were in decline. These were all removed in the summer before school resumed in September this year by the Landscape Crew, and their student worker team. The cypresses were turned into bark chips which have been reused in the updated design as ground cover, and the bigger pieces of all the trees were donated to Jackson County Fuel Committee for their service to provide firewood to people in tough times heating their homes in cold seasons.
"We owe a great debt of gratitude to Kyle Riggs and Mike Oxendine for their hard work and the work of their [entire team and] students working alongside them in Facilities. We could not be more pleased with the current outcome," said Malbaurn.