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Pictured are (from left) OSU President Burns Hargis, First Cowgirl Ann Hargis, James Pickel (class of ’72), and Victoria Berry, director of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art.

Allan Houser sculpture Abstract Orange takes OSU orange to new level

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A second Allan Houser sculpture, this one perfectly matched to America’s Brightest Orange, was unveiled Wednesday during a ceremony hosted by Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis and First Cowgirl Ann Hargis. Abstract Orange is a continuation of OSU’s initiative of integrating public art on campus.

At the dedication, Hargis thanked OSU alumnus James Pickel (class of ’72) of Oklahoma City, who gifted the sculpture.

“We cannot thank James enough for this gift; it’s a wonderful addition,” he said. “Unique, eye-catching work such as this will inspire others to help us place beautiful art all around our campus.” 

Pickel’s role in the OSU Public Art Committee inspired him to donate Abstract Orange.

“I have admired Houser’s work for years,” Pickel said. “I believe it is important for the community to be exposed to the arts, and this work felt like the perfect thing for me to contribute. Having the opportunity to preserve it in the official OSU orange was the icing on the cake.”

Although Abstract Orange was originally set forth as an edition of five, the sculpture gifted to OSU is the only one to have ever been made. Before its arrival in Stillwater, the sculpture was sealed in a powder coat finish formulated to perfectly match the official OSU orange.

Abstract Orange will be an extension of the OSU Museum of Art’s public art collection, along with Houser’s Singing Heart. Houser (1914-1994), an Oklahoma-born Chiricahua Apache artist, is considered one of the most renowned American Indian modernist sculptors of the 20th century. Although Houser is perhaps best known for his narrative and figurative work, he began experimenting with abstract forms, which led to numerous new works.

Victoria Berry, director of the OSU Museum of Art in downtown Stillwater, said campus art installations provide an opportunity for everyone to experience art on campus. She believes the abstraction of the piece leaves room for interpretation, which provides opportunities for it to resonate with a broad scope of viewers.

The sculpture is located on the north side of the Student Union Plaza.

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