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New art enhances King Library entrance

August 11, 2016

Metallic art by Jon Allen recently installed in the King Library foyer made possible by funding from the Thomas K. and Carol Krepel fund and the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College) Metallic art by Jon Allen recently installed in the King Library foyer made possible by funding from the Thomas K. and Carol Krepel fund and the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)
Description and artist's statement about the new metallic art installation in the King Library foyer. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College) Description and artist's statement about the new metallic art installation in the King Library foyer. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)

CHADRON – The entry foyer of the King Library at Chadron State College has been brightened by four new works by Florida artist Jon Allen thanks to an initiative aimed at bringing more art to the college campus.

The colorful, highly polished metal art works will create an inviting entrance to an important building on campus and increase awareness of the resources of the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, said center director Sarah Polak, who oversees CSC’s permanent art collection and helped select the pieces.

“In the past, the library foyer has been kind of a white box,” Polak said of the entrance to the library, which was opened in 1967. “The library staff really wanted to bring in some color and some vibrancy.”

Encouraging and expanding placement of art across the campus is part of the college’s Master Plan, but finding pieces that were suitable for the library entrance, a small, high-ceilinged vestibule with a wide stairway on one side, wasn’t easy, Polak said. The bright sunlight that floods the foyer and the changes of temperature from doors opening and closing causes fading and other problems for paintings or works on paper. Those problems led to a search for art pieces that could withstand the conditions.

“It was kind of a problem, but also a great opportunity to experiment with a new medium and think about bringing different things to campus,” Polak said.

The works selected to meet those challenges were created by Allen, an artist who specializes in brightly colored metal pieces suitable for public spaces. The library’s pieces include two bright blue spiraling ribbon sculptures and two multi-colored abstract wall art works, each made of several different panels. A three-panel clock, with dark red background and lighter bull’s eye face, is also part of the installation.

“His works are not just polished metal or braised metal, but they are very colorful,” Polak said.  “These are really some dynamic, beautiful pieces.”

The durability and adaptability of Allen’s art pieces, and his experience in working with other colleges, played a role in the selection of the works, Polak added.

“He understands the university environment,” she said. “We tried to choose pieces that would be useful elsewhere on campus if, over time, we want to do something different in the library.”

Funding to purchase the art came from the Sandoz Center endowment and the Thomas K. and Carol Krepel Fund, Polak said.

“I believe that is something Dr. Krepel (former CSC president) would be very supportive of,” she said.

In addition to brightening the library entrance, Polak hopes to draw attention to the Sandoz Center, located in the former CSC library.

“It’s a way for us to take our expertise and the knowledge and resources we have here and share them across campus,” she said.

An open house to celebrate the art works is planned after the fall semester begins.

—George Ledbetter

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