‘Off Kilter, on Point’ offers glimpse into the 1960s at CSU

Lauryn Bolz

Deep in Colorado State’s archives, a gold mine of 1960s era paintings, sculptures and textile designs have been waiting to be displayed for the world to see.

All of the art displayed in “Off Kilter, on Point” is pulled from CSU’s permanent collection, which consists of gifts and donations given to the University, some going back decades before the Gregory Allicar Museum was established. Some of the artists that are featured have left their own mark on CSU, whether they are internationally known like Andy Warhol, or others like David Yust, a Colorado resident and faculty member whose art has recently been gaining attention in modern galleries.

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Museum director and chief curator Lynne Boland has had this exhibition in the works for a long time.

“This was really something that I had in mind for this museum before they even hired me as director. This collection was one of many reasons why I was really excited to come to CSU,” Boland said. “My specialization as an art historian is two-fold — European art in the 20th century and American art in the mid-century, and especially the 1960s — so this is very near and dear to my heart. Some of these artists I’ve published on before.”

Things like that are really exciting for me to be able to bring it back out, give it new life, put it on view in a context like this where it is surrounded by the other works of its kind. Lynne Boland, Director and Chief Curator

Boland’s mission was to give new life to the historic artwork, but that process required more than just hanging art on the gallery walls.

“Some of these pieces had not been on (display) in our galleries because they required conservation treatment and in-depth research,” said Suzanne Hale, Collections Manager. “There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in preparation for an exhibition of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection.”

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Takis’ Sphère electromagnétique set against other art of its time. The exhibition “Off Kilter on Point” showcases art of the 1960s from the Permanent Collection. (Clara Scholtz | Collegian)

One of these pieces is displayed prominently at the entrance to the gallery. Takis’ “Sphère electromagnétique” is constructed from a large hanging sphere and an electromagnet. It was in storage at the College of Business for many years.

“It was a little depressing to see it in storage,” Boland said. “This is an incredibly important piece of art, especially for the history of art as it intercepts with technology.”

The striking piece of art, which looks as if it were straight out of a sci-fi film, stuns gallery visitors upon first entering the gallery.

“Things like that are really exciting for me to be able to bring it back out, give it new life, put it on view in a context like this where it is surrounded by the other works of its kind,” Boland said.

CSU’s permanent collection of ’60s art is not only a source of pride for Boland, but many pieces are world-renowned and sought after by galleries. Acclaimed artist Charles Hinman’s “Cascade” was gifted to CSU in 1976 by two of the University’s most prominent art donors, John and Kimiko Powers. The brightly colored piece on shaped canvas, a new innovation for its time, was originally displayed in the Lory Student Center.

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“I was just speaking to a curator on the East Coast who is putting together an exhibition, and I was showing her some work and she was blown away,” Boland said. “That’s kind of the way it tends to be with our collection, people don’t know about it enough yet and when they find out about it they are absolutely amazed that we have what we have.”

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Charles Hinman’s Cascade is an innovative pierce of art. The exhibition “Off Kilter on Point” showcases the art of the 1960s from the Permanent Collection. (Clara Scholtz | Collegian)

The Gallery is in its last month, so it won’t be long before this historical art collection goes back into storage.

“I like to think that the physical presence of these artists and their art had a lasting impact on the community,” Hale said. “When I see college students with pop art clothing and gear, I wonder if this might have something to do with the wave of exhibitions at CSU in the ‘70s and ‘80s. During those years, many prominent artists, including Warhol and Rauschenberg, came to campus as visiting artists with exhibitions of their work.”

According to Boland, many of the pieces in “Off Kilter, on Point” are highly desired by other museums.

“There is a critical mass of really world-class art,” Boland said. “This could be in any museum in the world, MOMA would kill for some of this. It’s important to show. We have this stuff in our collection, we have a responsibility to make sure that it sees the light of day. It can’t just sit there.””

Lauryn Bolz can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @LaurynBolz.