Now by Piotr Kowalski

For the past year and a half, I have constantly passed by this sculpture wondering not only who put it there, but also what on Earth it was supposed to be. This semester I pass by this sculpture twice every Monday and Wednesday on my way to and from classes. It always catches my eye and makes me stop and gaze upon it for a moment no matter what and I’m sure it has the same effect on others as well. On Thursday, February 13th, at around 4:00 P.M., I decided to finally study the sculpture, really taking a hard look at it and pondering its meaning. After taking some pictures, I later went on to research and discover more about it.

       The name of the sculpture is Now and was created by a French-Polish artist and sculptor named Piotr Kowalski. The sculpture was placed where it now sits on the CSULB campus in 1965 after it was created through explosions by the use of dynamite to create the pieces. In 1965, CSULB sculpture professor Kenneth Glenn and artist Kosso Eloul organized the California International Sculpture Symposium, which was to bring together art and technology.[1] The event also partnered with industries, such as Bethlehem steel, in order to fuse together the industrial aspect and art.[2] Therefore, this sculpture was not only made to reflect the industrial era with its stainless-steel composition, but also the aesthetics of the times during the space race of the 1960s, as space rockets were also made out of steel.[3]

While it is very abstract, the structure is supposed resemble a tulip, with parts A, B and C, the three tall pieces, representing the petals. Part D is a half-circle shaped structure that sits in the middle of the petals to act as a center for the tulip. Lastly, part E, in the back, is a metal reflector that used to rotate with the sun in order to reflect sunlight onto the petals, but it stopped working a year after it was constructed, so now it sits still. When the sculpture was first brought over to be constructed, it was thought that stainless steel was shiny, but it was in fact dull. When it arrived on campus, a group of students were hired to help buff out the steel to make it shine. Recently, on January 29, 2020, CSULB ART 110 students helped clean the sculpture, removing years of dirt and grime, in order to allow it to shine once again.[4]  (“Art 110’s Maintenace Art activity @ Piotr Kowalski’s NOW”)

      Ultimately, this sculpture is a pretty abstract piece with a very interesting history to it. Both in the construction of the sculpture and most recently with its cleaning, CSULB students have played a role in existence of this sculpture. After discovering the history of the sculpture and what it is really supposed to be and represent, I will appreciate it much more and now every time I pass by it, I will be able to fully understand its importance and how lucky we are to have it on our campus.     


[1] Glenn Zucman. “Art 110’s Maintenance Art Activity @ Piotr Kowalski’s NOW.” Introduction to the Visual Arts, February 2, 2020. https://glenn.zucman.com/i2va/maintenace-art-activity-piotr-kowalski-now/. (accessed February 17, 2020).

[2] Alexandria Sivak. “Outdoor Sculpture at Long Beach Campus Gets a Fresh Look.” The Getty Iris, July 25, 2018. https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/outdoor-sculpture-at-long-beach-campus-gets-a-fresh-look/. (accessed February 17, 2020).

[3] Katie Rispoli. “Monumental: The Underrated History of Public Art at CSULB (And the Facelift Its Rightfully Getting) • Longbeachize.” Long Beach Post, July 7, 2017. https://lbpost.com/longbeachize/monumental-the-underrated-history-of-public-art-at-csulb. (accessed February 17, 2020).

[4]   Glenn Zucman. “Art 110’s Maintenance Art Activity @ Piotr Kowalski’s NOW.”

Bibliography

Rispoli, Katie. “Monumental: The Underrated History of Public Art at CSULB (And the Facelift Its Rightfully Getting) • Longbeachize.” Longbeachize. Long Beach Post, July 7, 2017. https://lbpost.com/longbeachize/monumental-the-underrated-history-of-public-art-at-  csulb. (Accessed February 17, 2020).

Sivak, Alexandria. “Outdoor Sculpture at Long Beach Campus Gets a Fresh Look.” The Getty Iris, July 25, 2018. https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/outdoor-sculpture-at-long-beach-campus-gets-a-fresh-look/. (Accessed February 17, 2020).

Zucman, Glenn. “Art 110’s Maintenance Art Activity @ Piotr Kowalski’s NOW.” Introduction to the Visual Arts, February 2, 2020. https://glenn.zucman.com/i2va/maintenace-art-activity-piotr-kowalski-now/. (Accessed February 17, 2020).

   

One Comment

  1. ZF

    Hello Ryan,
    I too have always wondered about that sculpture every time I passed by it to go to upper campus. I’ve always thought it could’ve had something to do with reflection judging the material used and the way it’s placed, facing the sun light. Thank you for explaining what it actually represents and I’m glad I actually got it sort of right too. This is very interesting!

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