Rockford’s Strange Orange-Pipe Sculpture Isn’t The Only One In The World
The Rockford Symbol can be a bit divisive. Some think it's beautiful. Some think it's an eyesore. Some think it's just kind of weird. I've always been in the last camp. It's a weird sculpture. I like it, it's definitely Rockford, but it's one of those unique things that you can point to and say "Hey, that's ours."
I always thought that it was "one of a kind" until I learned that there was one a lot like it in Oklahoma City. I did a little research and found out that the guy that designed and built the Symbol, Alexander Liberman, has dropped these "pipe-sculptures" all over the world.
A lot of these look like a bizzaro-version of the Symbol, just looked at through a different lens. His Wikipedia page says that he has more than 20 of these sculptures around the globe. I was able to track down photos of 10 of them. Here they are. What do you think?
Rockford, IL - Symbol (1978)
The one we all know. I really like this angle of The Symbol. You don't usually get to see it like this when you're cruising down 251. When I was a kid I thought that the long tube at a 30 degree angle to the ground was a big slide. I wasn't a smart kid.
Milwaukee, WI - Ritual II (1966)
The sculpture consists of a black monolith set on a circular base. Near the shaft's base is a circular form.
This is the first one listed and apparently done before Liberman found a metric ton of orange paint. Understated and subtle but not better than Symbol.
Milwaukee, WI - Orbits (1967)
The sculpture consists of four narrow tubes painted red-orange. Two tubes form elipses; two thrust toward the ground and out into space.
He found the orange paint. Initially I thought it looked like an orange snake, which is gross but it might be two planets orbiting each other and then colliding and shooting each other out into space. Either way, Symbol is definitely better.
Milwaukee, WI - Axeltree (1967)
The sculpture consists of two disks painted red-orange and attached by rods at their centers.
I know I don't usually "get" art but this straight up looks like it fell over. Maybe it's supposed to look like that. I'm not sure. If I were grading this, it would get an F. Sorry Milwaukee, you might have gotten ripped off for this one.
Portland, OR - Contact II (1972)
The painted steel sculpture measures 7 feet (2.1 m) x 8 feet (2.4 m) x 5 feet (1.5 m) and was donated by Ed Cauduro in 2002 in memory of his parents Ernest and Teresa Cauduro. It is part of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council. According to The Culture Trip, Contact II is "representative of Liberman's oeuvre as it is painted in red and its form centres on a circular shape, both of which were often repeated in his works".
If this one had been built after Symbol I would insist that it consists of scraps left over from the Rockford sculpture. Possibly more impressive in person, Symbol is considerably better.
Milwaukee, WI - Argo (1974)
With its form of white circles and cylinders, the sculpture not only enhances the building, but, when viewed from the west, appears to float on the surface of the water. This effect is exactly as the artist intended, as implied by the title, Argo-the heroic adventure ship of the ancient Greeks.
This one looks pretty cool. I'd love to see it from the angle that makes it look like it's floating. This one might be as nice as Symbol.
Seattle, WI - Olympic Iliad (1984)
The work includes large steel cylinders cut at different angles and lengths, painted red.
Now we're talking. I love the fact that it is known as the Pasta Tube in Seattle. It's honestly kind of lame we never made up a cool nickname for Symbol. You can definitely tell that this was made about 5 years after Symbol, it's basically the Rockford version with more tubes. Very cool.
Jerusalem, Israel - Faith (1984)
I can't find much on this one because everything on it is in Hebrew. I do like it though. The ring seems to be floating. This is one of my favorites.
Oklahoma City, OK - Galaxy (1985)
The abstract (geometric) welded steel sculpture is approximately 45 feet (14 m) tall and 27 feet (8.2 m) wide. It is painted red and weighs 14 tons
Let's go! This one is great. Looks like one of those 4-legged robots that kids can put together. And it's big, almost 5 stories tall. This might be my favorite.
St. Louis, MO - The Way (1980)
Constructed from eighteen salvaged steel oil tanks, the sculpture is 65 feet (20 m) tall, 102 feet (31 m) wide, and 100 feet (30 m) deep, and weighs 55 short tons (50 t). It is painted cadmium red.
Nevermind, this is my favorite. This is HUGE and it looks like you might still be able to walk around "inside" the sculpture. I've never really had a reason to visit St. Louis before, not sure if this will be enough to get me down there but it will be the first "pro" I've added to the "should I travel to St. Louis" decision.
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