University breaks ground for West Bank Art Building

Erin Madsen

Poor ventilation, animal infestation and inaccessibility are problems that will soon be mere memories for the University’s Art Department.
University students and faculty celebrated the breaking of ground for the new West Bank Art Building on Wednesday.
The new building, slated for completion in April 2002, will offer students and faculty state-of-the-art studios, galleries and equipment and provide ample gathering space where an art community can flourish.
Upon completion, the Art Building will serve as an anchor for the West Bank Arts Quarter alongside the Rarig Center, Ted Mann Concert Hall, Ferguson Hall and the Barbara Barker Center for Dance.
“These four blocks will be a hub for the performance arts,” said Steve Rosenstone, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The Arts Quarter is about serving the needs of students and keeping Minnesota’s most creative students in Minnesota.”
At the groundbreaking, University President Mark Yudof commended students for their unwavering support of the building during the last nine months.
Gov. Jesse Ventura rejected the original proposal for the $44 million building in January.
Students, faculty and art contributors statewide rallied and, with the president’s support, persuaded the Legislature to grant the funding in May despite the governor’s dismissal.
“The invasion of art students (at legislative meetings) was like locusts — persistent locusts,” he said. “Your presence was a critical dimension.”
Yudof regarded the groundbreaking as “quite an accomplishment in such a brief period of time.”
Andrea Boese, an art education senior, said she is thrilled to see the construction begin, even though she will graduate this year.
“I’m not going to be able to work in it, but we need that,” Boese said. “I’ve always wanted a strong building and learning environment.”
The push for a new art building stemmed from student and faculty concerns about the dilapidated condition of the present art building.
“(The current art building) is completely unsafe and inadequate,” said theater sophomore Sarafina Planer. “How can you learn in conditions like that?”
Theater junior, Paul Stimmler, said that the facility’s condition hindered the department.
“(The art department) wasn’t drawing the kind of students and faculty it could have,” he said.
University officials, faculty and project coordinators chose 14 art students to design shovels to break ground.
Trudy DuBois, an art senior who participated in the funding rallies, designed her shovel in the shape of a grapevine which she compared to art and artists.
“Historically, (the grapevine) is a spiritual thing,” she said. “It’s one thing that’s indigenous to most land, gives life, and weathers everything.”

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