Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Middlebury’s Public Art Collection Adds Another Outdoor Sculpture

August 21, 2014

J. Pindyck Miller, Youbie Obie, 1972–75

For immediate release: 8/21/14
For further information contact: Emmie Donadio, Chief Curator, at donadio@middlebury.edu or (802) 443-2240

Middlebury, VT— When Middlebury College students return to campus this September they will be greeted by Youbie Obie, a large sculpture newly located on the northern edge of the campus, near Coffrin Hall and Le Chateau. Measuring some 15 1/2 feet in length and rising to 15 1/2 feet in height, the cor-ten steel construction consists of arcs and half-arcs in a rhythmic and commodious relationship that suggests a gate.

The artist, J. Pindyck Miller, a 1960 graduate of Middlebury, finished the original version of the sculpture—rendered in aluminum, painted white, and a full third smaller—in 1975. The cor-ten steel version that will come to Middlebury has been donated to the College by its former owners Drs. James and Lauma Katis of Greenwich, Conn., who commissioned it in 1984. The donors have also provided the funds to move it from their property, where it has stood since its completion in 1985. The installation at Middlebury is set to begin after the conclusion of the Summer Language Schools and will be completed by the first week of September.

The sculpture will be delivered to the campus on a flat-bed trailer and assembled at its site. In addition to creating a secure footing and foundation for the work, the installation will include a circle of shrubbery at the base of the sculpture. Ken Pohlman, Museum Exhibition Designer, is overseeing the design of the site and the installation, which will be carried out by members of the College’s Facilities Services department.

Middlebury’s Committee on Art in Public Places (CAPP) was presented with the opportunity to acquire the sculpture last fall. In the past year, while the work underwent conservation, the committee deliberated on the best possible site for the work, taking into consideration its scale, its heraldic imagery, the warmth of its surface color, and the pictorial qualities it reveals to those who circumnavigate it. Fittingly, the chosen location, at the conjunction of pathways between buildings associated with Atwater Commons and the space enveloped by Bicentennial Hall, permits passersby a range of vantage points from which to view the impressive work. From its short side it appears deceptively flat, but seen fully on its long dimension it commands the space majestically.

This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of CAPP, which is charged with expanding the educational mission of the museum and the History of Art and Architecture and Studio Art programs by placing on campus compelling art works of high quality. Youbie Obie, the 22nd permanent work CAPP has placed on the campus, is a provocative addition to what is already widely recognized as one of the more important public art collections of any American liberal arts college.

J. Pindyck Miller was born in New York, NY in 1938. After graduating from Middlebury in 1960, he studied at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art. Over his long career, Miller has worked primarily in the modern tradition of constructivism, a style noted for the reductive simplicity of its formal arrangements, which often consist of purely geometric shapes or combinations of shapes. A painter and maker of mixed-media collages and wall reliefs as well as sculpture and sculptural reliefs made of steel, aluminum, bronze, and wood, Miller’s work has been noted for its witty allusions to architectural or even figurative forms. Youbie Obie is one of his largest and, in the artist’s opinion, most accomplished works. Although the copy of the work that will be installed on campus is made from cor-ten steel, Miller has made other copies of the work in both aluminum and stainless steel.

Miller is both honored and delighted that CAPP has accepted his work on behalf of the Middlebury community. The artist had a solo exhibition at the Middlebury College Museum of Art in 1993, and one of his works, Red Cloud, has been a part of the museum’s collection ever since. His works can also be found in the collections of Vassar College, General Electric, and PepsiCo, among other institutions and private owners. Miller’s first solo exhibition was held at the Katonah Gallery in Katonah, NY. Since then, his works have been shown at many exhibitions around New England, including at Vassar College, SUNY-Albany, and the New England Sculptors Guild at Greene Art Gallery in Stamford, Conn.

A video about the work and its installation is in progress and will be available at the beginning of September via the museum’s Web page at museum.middlebury.edu or as a link from the museum’s blog.

Watch for updated information about and views of the project on the museum’s various social channels.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/middartmuseum
Twitter: @middartmuseum
Instagram: middartmuseum
The Museum Blog: http://sites.middlebury.edu/middartmuseum/

The Middlebury College Museum of Art, located in the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Rte. 30 on the southern edge of campus, is free and open to the public Tues. through Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sat. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The museum is physically accessible. Parking is available in the Mahaney Center for the Arts parking lot. For further information and to confirm dates and times of scheduled events, please call (802) 443–5007 or TTY (802) 443–3155, or visit the museum’s website at museum.middlebury.edu.