PULLMAN, Wash. — “Portal,” the creative art project of internationally recognized Seattle artist Lewis “Buster” Simpson, will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, on George Laisner Sculpture Plaza, in front of the Washington State University Museum of Art.
Dedication speakers will include WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, Simpson, Kris Tucker, Washington State Arts Commission executive director, Paul Lee, fine arts department chair and Ross Coates, museum interim director, who will preside over the program.
Also on Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium, Simpson will deliver a public lecture, “Portal, A Pedagogical Approach.”
The WSAC’s Art in Public Places Program commissioned Simpson’s project in partnership with WSU.
The artist said “Portal” functions as a “work of art both as a static and dynamic piece. As elements in the plaza, they hold their presents compositionally, engaging the architecture. With ephemeral interventions by the students and faculty, ‘Portal’ becomes a platform of engagement. The basalt columns provide a modernist geometry yet become an armature as sculptural plinths. ‘Slate Portal’ and ‘Illuminated Portal’ provide a dynamic axial entry into the plaza as well as a medium for expression. Portable pallets provide a flexible temporary ‘free zone of expression,’ bringing the studio into the plaza.”
Since Simpson constructed the “Slate Portal” last summer, individuals have already used it, using chalk to communicate and depict thoughts and concepts.
“Portal” fulfills an expectation when the sculpture plaza was dedicated Sept. 27, 1980, to honor George Laisner, well-known WSU artist and teacher. Laisner, who died in 1984, spent nearly 40 years on the WSU fine arts faculty, influenced his students and won awards for his sculptures and paintings. Until “Portal,” the plaza included pieces by at least two WSU graduates, both former Laisner students:
—A cast concrete sculpture with intertwined pieces influenced by Mayan art. By Harold Balasz in
—Fra Mobadalen, a polished bronze sculpture by Norman Taylor of
An artist for more than 30 years, Simpson has worked on projects in Seattle, Denver, Boston, New York, Miami, Vancouver and London. He is a sculpture graduate of the University of Michigan, from which he holds a master of fine arts. After college, Simpson’s first official job as a public artist was at New York’s legendary Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969. Later, he moved to Seattle, arriving about the same time the region’s pioneering public art program was getting underway. In 1971, he helped create Seattle’s Pilchuck Glass School.
According to the Seattle Times, Simpson is among the pioneers of publicly funded art in Seattle. He is “…one of the most important public art thinkers in the country because he’s redefined what an artist does in a public space,” Barbara Goldstein, public art program manager for the Seattle Arts Commission, told the Times. “Lots of times people may not see exactly what Buster does because the works are very subtle. But when they look again, his works transform the way people see things.”
Simpson’s Web site is www.bustersimpson.net