Don’t Let Great Art Pass You By
Have you ever wondered about the stories behind some of the unique sculptures on Rock Valley College’s campus? Maybe you have walked right by them any number of times but your head was down staring at your phone. Hey, we have all been guilty of that. Well, next time you are taking a stroll around campus, put the phone away and keep your eyes peeled for some of these distinctive pieces of artwork that call RVC home.
For his Art Appreciation classes held over the summer, Art Instructor Jeremy Foy brought some of these sculptures to his students’ attention.
“It was not until I took my students on a tour around campus that they actually stopped to look at the art and take it in,” said Foy. “Students told me that they passed these pieces everyday on the way to class and had never stopped to look at them. I told them that we pass a lot in life because of our busy schedules. I hope that stopping to see, talk about, and learn the history of these sculptures will allow them to take these moments in-between rushing to our next destination to notice our surroundings, take them in, critique them, and appreciate them.”
Artist: Arthur H. Winer
Installation Date: Dedicated April, 1970
Current Location: Near the walking path by the creek between the Student Center and Educational Resource Center (ERC).
Artist information: Winer was an RVC instructor in 1965, but at the time of his donation (1970) he was an instructor of art at Marietta College in Ohio. The sculpture was a second casting of one that the artist had installed at a client’s home in Ohio. Since the client’s name was Addison and a wall of the residence was used, he recognized this family by naming the sculpture “Addison’s Wall.”
Artist: Jon Critchfield
Installation Date: Fall, 2000
Current Location: Behind Buildings E, F and G, between those buildings and the pond.
Artist Information: Artist operated the Western Art East Gallery & Studio from his home, and has completed work for the Belvidere Park District and private clients in Rockford. He carves a variety of woods, antlers, driftwood, and creates original and custom works in wood and bronze.
Update: The eagle on “Golden Eagle” is no more. While the beautifully sculpted base of the statue remains, the majestic eagle that was perched atop was destroyed. Whether a victim of vandalism or of “Mother Nature” is not known for certain.
Artist: Gene Horvath
Installation Date: Spring, 1974
Current Location: Southeast corner of Educational Resources Center (ERC) on the hill.
Artist Information: The works of Gene Horvath grace many public spaces throughout Rockford. After a 35-year career as an Art Director, and sculpting part-time since 1972, Horvath sculpted full-time from 1986 to 1995. Born in Dayton, Ohio, he graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago.
Notes: “Represents further exploration [earlier exploration was exemplified in the Sinnisssippi Crab sculpture] of the ‘systems’ described by Horvath as sculpture utilizing a basic shape in varying relationships to itself and its environment. The systems, he said, allowed him to change angles on the sculpture to relate to the peaks of the buildings around it.” Horvath learned a little Japanese when he was in training in World War II, and he named some of his sculptures in foreign languages. This was the beginning of his career and the beginning of that practice. As it was his second commissioned work, it was called “Niban” or number 2. (A previous, privately commissioned piece was known as “No. 1.”)
Artist: Bruce Hilding White
Installation Date: 1978 at 4000 Morsay Drive, Rockford Park District; Moved to Rock Valley College, October, 2003
Current Location: South of Starlight Theatre near Parking Lot 9B and CLII.
Artist Information: Bruce Hilding White, Professor Emeritus, Northern Illinois University (retired 1996)
Not feeling adventurous? Here’s a campus map pointing out the locations of each of these sculptures.
Some content for this article was republished from the 2003 publication put together by the Rockford Park District entitled “Greater Rockford Inventory of Public Sculpture.” Research was conducted by Patricia A. Hayes and Adriana Grisales of the Rockford Park District with photography by Shad Bowser and Stacy Droege. Additional notes and research on sculptures located at RVC were provided by Steve Thompson, RVC Historian, and Mike Webb, former Director of RVC’s Theater program.