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UC Riverside’s first major outdoor art installation will soon be unveiled.

The final elements of the steel, concrete, and garden sculpture were added over the last few months to the installation located in the 5,000-square-foot walkway between the Arts and College of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary buildings.

The area has been fenced off since last February as work began on the project, which consists of a variety of features in a circular area. These include more than a dozen yellow signs, one of which is affixed to a rotating turbine, with words reading “Things Change” or “Change Things” depending on your perspective. The artwork also features Cottonwood trees, a variety of green and yellow plants, and concrete benches and seats.

The piece by San Diego artist Roy McMakin is titled a circular sculpture about usefulness amongst other things.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Jason Espinoza, project manager with the Office of Planning, Design and Construction, noted the project faced some challenges and delays due to its complexity, but the final outcome meets the high expectations of both McMakin and the campus staff and faculty members who helped usher the work to fruition.

“Enhancing a prominent gateway to the campus exemplifies UCR’s commitment to the ideals of community while cultivating useful living-learning interactions with art,” Espinoza said.

McMakin, who has made several visits to the campus and was on hand in late December to see the installation of the benches and plants, said he was happy with the results.

Construction crew members lowered the concrete furniture pieces — some weighing 8,500 pounds —  with specialized machinery. The remaining plants and trees were then installed, new grass was planted, and the concrete walkway replaced.

In late January, installation began on the final piece of the project: 13 steel poles and 14 aluminum signs that feature the words “things” or “change,” along with a circular turbine with the same message.

For Jim Isermann, a UCR arts professor who brought McMakin to the project, it’s been a long time coming. The sculpture was originally proposed more than a decade ago but shelved due to budgetary reasons in 2009.

“I’m so excited; I can’t tell you,” Isermann said during McMakin’s recent visit. “It’s been over 10 years for me trying to get this to happen.”

He expects the installation will serve as an entry point and gathering spot for the campus.

“It’s going to be everything we wanted; a place where people want to be,” Isermann said.

-Imran Ghori

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