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Color on the lawn

Art installed at Blanden Memorial Art Museum

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Robert Craig, at right, gets a hand from Blanden Memorial Art Museum maintenance worker Brad Bushman as he puts the spinning top on his sculpture “Holdfast” Wednesday afternoon.

A new piece of colorful sculpture joined the other works on the grounds of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum Wednesday afternoon.

The piece, called “Holdfast” is from Des Moines sculptor Robert Craig, an art instructor at Drake University. It’s made of painted aluminum.

Eric Anderson, director of the Blanden, watched the installation on the museum’s east lawn.

“We’re going to have a great representation of all the abstract art inside that Ann Smeltzer got for the museum,” he said. “It’s a great representation of the abstract collection. A whisper of the amazing collection of American modernists.”

The piece is painted in several different colors and features a top that spins in the wind.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Robert Craig hooks up his sculpture “Holdfast” Wednesday afternoon during its installation outdoors at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

He said the piece will look different depending on its changing surroundings.

“Depending on the light, the colors will change and they’ll change dramatically seasonally,” he said. “I’m anxious to see how it reads in the spring and summer.”

While the paint itself doesn’t change, he said, the viewers perception of the colors will, perhaps the orange will seem more pronounced surrounded by green leaves or the greenish blue parts will seem emphasized by orange fall leaves.

The grounds of the Blanden has plenty of public art. Local artist Maureen Seamonds has three pieces including “Echoes From The Kenyon Dark Revisited.” The stainless steel maple leaves, called “Cyclist” by artist Tom Stancliffe, reflects the colors around it.

Anderson said art on the grounds is as important as the art inside.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Robert Craig uses a tape measure to center his sculpture “Holdfast” Wednesday afternoon at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

“It’s an important piece for a museum to have a small representation of their works on the grounds,” he said.

Plans call for lighting the piece in the spring or early summer, he said.

The Blanden also got a bonus to go with the new sculpture. Craig let them have a small mockup model and a signed design drawing.

Anderson especially hopes the colorful piece appeals to visitors during school tours.

“There’s a nice layer of playfulness,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Framed by the control box for the crane, artist Robert Craig guides his sculpture “Holdfast” into place on its pedestal Wednesday afternoon at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

When Craig was finished and had the last bolt tightened down, he took a few minutes to look at his work in place before picking his tools up.

“I hope it actually inspires imagination,” Craig said. “I’m very happy to have a piece in the Blanden collection.”

The cost of the $60,000 was provided by an endowment from the Blanden Charitable Foundation.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Robert Craig, and his reflection, watch as his sculpture “Holdfast” begins its journey from a flatbed trailer to a pedestal waiting for it at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum Wednesday afternoon.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Blanden Memorial Art Museum Director Eric Anderson holds a mockup of the new sculpture “Holdfast” Wednesday afternoon as the artist, Robert Craig, works on the installation. The Blanden has added the mockup and a design drawing to their collection in addition to the finished full-sized one.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Robert Craig tightens down the bolts holding the spinning top onto his sculpture “Holdfast” Wednesday afternoon as he finishes the installation of the new piece at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.