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posted: 1/24/2014 5:30 AM

Future of art at College of DuPage still in limbo

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A 40-by-12 foot ceramic mural that once adorned the wall of College of DuPage's Physical Education Building continues to come up in discussion there -- even when it's not scheduled for debate.

At Thursday's board meeting Trustee Nancy Svoboda questioned why discussion of the mural's future was not on the agenda.

The artwork begun in 1982 and completed in 1983 for the dedication of then-new PE Building found itself in storage after the building was modernized during campus renovations; the college has said the mural would not return.

"I don't see it (the mural) on the agenda," Svoboda said Thursday, "and therefore I would like to make a formal request that at the next meeting, the February meeting, that it be on there with some kind of recommendation."

The mural depicting athletes in action, entitled "Aidos," is inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of the perfection of mind, body and spirit. It was built over the course of 20 months. Retired art professors Pam Lowrie and John Wantz are credited as its artists. The 12-panel mural weighs at least two tons and Lowrie said has an estimated value of $65,000.

At the Nov. 21 board meeting, Lowrie and others first spoke out about the significance of the mural and why it should remain on campus. COD has stated that the mural would not return due to the damage it will cause to the new brick, the difficulty entailed in maintaining the piece and because it does not fit the current aesthetics of the renovated center, reasons Lowrie found "absurd."

Svoboda at the Dec. 19 meeting presented a petition with 150 signatures in support of finding a home for the mural. Options considered included finding an appropriate place in the college's community or another place on campus for it. Another suggestion was to break it into smaller pieces while keeping intact the center section, although several trustees were uncomfortable with that idea.

At the time the board agreed to put off further discussion until the January meeting, but Chairman Erin Birt on Thursday noted that "as of Jan. 2 I had absolutely no emails requesting any information" to put the item on the meeting agenda.

"Anyone can ask that anything be placed on the agenda," Birt said. "I have to have timing that's appropriate to put something on the agenda."

Svoboda noted that "I'd like to see it (on the agenda) as more of an action item. I'd like to see it go up again, but I know there's other thoughts on that."

"I don't know if the board is ready to take any kind of action on the mural," Birt said. "At the meeting last month we discussed that maybe additional information needed to be provided to the board. It's a bit premature to say that we were even ready to put it on as an action item and make a decision."

Trustee Kim Savage, who said at December's meeting that "it was important to find a place on campus for the mural" agreed with Svoboda that "there are things that we may want to move forward."

"I would concur that instead of leaving this hanging out there forever that we figure out a way that we can either approve or not approve it," Savage said. "I would be favorable to seeing it on the agenda next month."

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