Dale Eldred, 1969
This large steel sculpture — 35 feet tall, 24 feet wide and weighing more than 30 tons — is by sculptor Dale Eldred (1933-93) and was a gift to the Spencer Museum of Art from Mr. and Mrs. John M. Simpson, who had exhibited it at their home in Salina, Kan.
In June 1981 the piece was delivered to a site selected by a university committee that included Charles Eldredge, director of the Spencer Museum of Art; the site was a triangular piece of land directly south of the Prairie Acre at Sunnyside Avenue and Sunflower Road. The first attempt to install the huge piece on the inclined site was unsuccessful; additionally, residents of the adjacent University Place neighborhood expressed objections to its scale and to the loss of green space. The unmounted piece was removed to storage at the Facilities Operations warehouse in November 1981.
In January 1984 a new site, on the south lawn near Youngberg Hall on west campus, was selected and the piece installed. It comprises a rectangular plane on a 45-degree angle supported by two sets of angled girders supported by 5-inch suspension rods. An example of gigantism, it has been called a “huge sundial” and “the waffle iron.”
Eldred, chairman of the sculpture department at the Kansas City Art Institute, was internationally known for such large pieces, one of which is at the entrance to the institute. He died in a fall at his studio in the West Bottoms of Kansas City when he was trying to save his work and tools during the flood of July 1993.