Mining Circle sculpture finds a permanent home on campus

Bruce Beasley

Sculptor Bruce Beasley, with his piece “Rondo II,” before Monday’s ceremony formally accepting the piece as a gift to BAM/PFA. (NewsCenter photo by Peg Skorpinski)

A cold winter wind couldn’t defeat the warm feelings Monday afternoon as sculptor and alumnus Bruce Beasley’s “Rondo II” sculpture was formally accepted as a permanent part of the UC Berkeley landscape.

“I’m thrilled it’s going to stay here,” said Beasley, a 1962 graduate of world renown who’s works are in museums worldwide. “It feels like it belongs here.”

“Here” is in the round pool at the center of the Mining Circle in front of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, where the sculpture was installed early in the summer, one of five from Beasley’s “Rondo” series that the artist brought to campus as an outdoor gallery show.

Invisible underwater struts hold the sculpture just at the water level, giving its intertwined stainless steel rings the appearance of dancing on the surface.

Physics professor Frances Hellman was so taken with the Mining Circle sculpture that she and her husband, engineer and artist Warren Breslau, made a gift of it to the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive.

“We have public art, but not enough of it,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer in formally accepting the gift Monday. “So much of what we do on a university campus is a matter of leading with our minds; art makes us lead with our feelings, and then ask: Why?”

Breslauer announced that the sculpture was being dedicated to the late Donald Glaser, who joined Berkeley’s physics department as a professor in 1959 and won the Nobel Prize for his advances in particle-physics research. Glaser’s widow, Lynn, was on hand for the ceremony. Beasley was close to Glaser, Breslauer said.

Bruce Beasley, Lynn Glaser

Bruce Beasley with Lynn Glaser, widow of the late Berkeley physicist Donald Glaser, to whom the sculpture is dedicated. (NewsCenter photo by Peg Skorpinski)

Lawrence Rinder, executive director of BAM/PFA, said, “All of us at BAM/PFA are really thrilled to add this wonderful piece to our collection.”

Beasley studied with the noted ceramicist Peter Voulkos at Berkeley, Rinder said, and “quickly became one of the most well known artists exploring Abstract Expressionist principles in three dimensions.”

In 1961, while still a student at Berkeley, Beasley was included in the exhibition The Art of Assemblage at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Rinder recounted. The following year, one of his assemblages was acquired by MoMA, making him the youngest artist at the time to be included in that museum’s collection, Rinder added.

A stainless steel plaque commemorating the gift will be installed on the rim of the Mining Circle pool.  The Hellman-Breslau gift included an endowment to maintain the piece as well as other public art around campus.

A PDF brochure with a map trom 2001 that identifies other permanent sculptures on the campus grounds is posted on the UC Berkeley Capital Projects website.

Previous coverage of Bruce Beasley’s five-sculpture installation on campus can be read on the UC Berkeley NewsCenter.