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When art meets the market


Photo
Jacob Konst/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Verdant Reflections, a sculpture by UA alumnus Tom Philabaum, is one of two installations inside the Highland Market. The two works are meant to give the market "more of a neighborhood feel," said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.
By Andrew O'Neill
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 21, 2005
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Residence Life spends $15K on artwork adorning Highland Market

Unique works of art often raise a few eyebrows - especially when they come with a five-digit price tag.

"Verdant Reflections" by Tom Philabaum and "Tulipa Trapezium" by LynnRae Lowe made their Tucson debut in the Highland Market in August, enhancing students' dining and shopping experiences, said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

The two pieces cost $15,000 and came out of the budget of Residence Life, which he said includes revenues his office gets back from student fees.

Van Arsdel said the pieces, which he called "fragile yet whimsical," were commissioned specifically for the Highland Market to enliven the store's atmosphere.

"We wanted to do something that would be visually appealing for students," he said.

Natalie Curran, a physiology junior, said she was in the store when the pieces were being installed.

"I think they're cool to look at," she said. "It's not as bland, so you're not just staring at brick walls."

Although she sad she likes the pieces, Curran is not sure whether or not it was necessary to spend so much money on them.

Van Arsdel said the work of professional artists comes with a price.

"Whatever we do needs to be of a high quality," he said.

These particular pieces reflect the vision of two local artists who are also UA alumni.

"Verdant Reflections" is an intricate glass sculpture made to look like a bouquet of flowers, while "Tulipa Trapezium" is a giant tulip.

"The color of the glass is amazing in the right light," Van Arsdel said about the piece.

He said the market is an important destination for the 2,000 students who live in the residence halls nearby.

"We wanted to give Highland Market a neighborhood feel as opposed to an institutional feel," he said.

Van Arsdel likens the store to a village well where people can come together to eat, talk and shop, as one might find in any neighborhood.

"The artwork is simply part of the store," he said.

He said he likes some of the student artwork he sees around campus, but many of these pieces are two-dimensional paintings and drawings.

He said he is hopeful the market will soon be able to showcase student artwork, although he is pleased with the work of the two professional artists.

"I think they are beautiful," said Christiana Ageh, Highland Market supervisor.

She said everyone has their own way of looking at these pieces and that artwork can strike people in different ways.

Van Arsdel said you do not have to be an artist or an art major to appreciate these new additions to the market.

"Art adds a dimension of beauty, interest, symbolism and perhaps history that enhance our daily lives," he said.



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