Major Public Art Works Come to Call SSU Home

asiabeam.jpg"Asia" by Bruce Johnson stands across the street from the Music Education Building. (Photo by Bryan Bell)

The grand columns and lintel that formed the signature outdoor sculpture Asia at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa for a decade has become a new gateway at Sonoma State University for major art works that will appear on campus this semester.

Asia, the sculpture made by Bruce Johnson, was recently installed on the north end of the campus, across from the Green Music Center Education building. Erected by the sculptor himself, Johnson spent two days bolting the pieces into place with the assistance of construction workers and a crane from the ongoing Green Music Center project.

The piece was a gift of Dr. Walter Byck who had the piece displayed in Marijke's Grove, an outdoor sculpture garden named after his wife, at Paradise Ridge Winery.

Joining Asia on the grounds near the Green Music Center as well are:

Winged Figure AscendingStephen De Staebler's Winged Figure Ascending, 2011 - this sculpture is on loan from the artist's estate for approximately the next two years. It is made of bronze and is 108 x 32 x 33" and will be installed near the GMC box office.

De Staebler's Figure with Sandstone Head, 2010 - this sculpture is also on loan from the artist's estate. It is made of ceramic and is 71 x 11 x 11". It will be installed in the GMC lobby.

De Staebler (1933-2011) was an internationally known ceramic and bronze sculptor who lived and worked in Berkeley and taught for many years at San Francisco State University.

His work, which is primarily figurative yet not traditional in its depiction of the human form, is in private and public collections throughout the United States.


Robert Ellison's Bar Note Bench - Jean Schulz, wife of the late Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, purchased Bar Note Bench after seeing it on display at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa.

Schulz is a long-time supporter of Sonoma State University, and donated $5 million toward the construction of Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center, bestowing upon the hall the name of the piano-playing Peanuts character.

The sculpture is located outside the Music Education building on the GMC grounds.

Along with the Robert Ellison and Bruce Johnson sculptures, a major painting by noted Sonoma County painter Jack Stuppin has been donated to SSU and will be displayed in the Green Music Center.

Titled Alexander Valley and St. Helena, 2004, the large oil on canvas painting measures 63-1/2 x 84-1/2" and portrays the beautiful landscape of the North Bay.

Stuppin was for many years a member of the pleine air painting group The Sonoma Four, and his work has been exhibited nationally in many solo and group exhibitions.

All of this artwork was selected by community members and donated to SSU several years ago specifically to be installed on the grounds around the GMC. Johnson and Ellison are Sonoma County artists who have broad regional reputations. 

christofence.jpgIn addition, the University, through the generosity of private donors, has purchased five photographs by the renowned photographer Wolfgang Volz depicting Christo and Jeanne-Claude's legendary outdoor artwork, Running Fence: Sonoma and Marin Counties, 1972-76.

The large-scale images, which will be displayed in the Green Music Center, beautifully document different stages of the project, from its start atop Meacham Hill in Penngrove to its dramatic decent into the Pacific Ocean in Bodega--a distance of 24 1/2 miles.

Framing for these striking photographs was made possible in part by the support of My Daughter the Framer in Santa Rosa. In addition to the Wolfgang Volz photographs now owned by SSU, the Sonoma County Museum has kindly agreed to lend a group of original drawings and collages by Christo and Jeanne-Claude of Running Fence and several of their other projects.

These works will remain on view in the Green Music Center through January, 2013.

A number of SSU students and faculty participated in the installation of Running Fence in 1976, and the photographs will serve as a link between Sonoma County's new world-class performing arts facility and the world-class visual art event that took place here 36 years ago this coming September.

"It's been gratifying to have the support of our growing group of generous donors who have made the art at GMC possible, and exciting to see the work arrive, piece by piece," said Michael Schwager, Professor of Art History and a member of the Campus Art Committee.   

"In the coming months and years, we hope to bring even more high-quality artwork to the Green Music Center and to the rest of the SSU campus."

For further information, contact Michael Schwager, Professor of Art History, (707) 664-2720,

Above, left - "Winged Figure Ascendant" by Stephen De Staebler near the Green Music Center box office area.

Above, right - "Running Fence: Sonoma and Marin Counties, 1972-76" by Wolfgang Volz.

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