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Stone River
Andy Goldsworthy's serpentine rock sculpture: Stone River

Art Exhibit...

Touring Stanford University's 
Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit

Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California, is famous for many reasons, scholarly as well as artistic. But I recently learned that Stanford is also becoming well-known in art circles for something a little less traditional -- modern and contemporary sculpture. Their collection includes the famous Rodin bronzes -- the largest collection outside Paris -- as well as works from Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, David Smith and many others. 

In late 2001, Andy Goldsworthy added another piece to their outdoor collection called Stone River. It's a serpentine wall-like rock sculpture that was placed in what looks like a dry creek-bed. The wall snakes its way along this creek-bed for several hundred feet, and visitors are permitted to walk alongside it as it winds its way, getting smaller and smaller toward the end. It's fascinating to stand above it (you can find it near the Canter Museum -- follow the campus signs to get there), and it's well worth the short walk to see it up close -- you can even touch it if you like.

Stone River

I took a docent tour of the Stanford grounds, led by Ann Walton, who was also a Stanford alum. When we finished viewing Stone River, she took us to the tomb of the Stanford family. She had lots of insider information about it, including the fact that when she was a student, it was a place where lovers came to spend a little time together...
Stanford lion Stanford lioness
I couldn't resist taking these photos. The one on the left is one of a pair that guard the entrance to the Stanford memorial. Notice that it is a man's head with a lion's body, quite suitable for guard duty. Around the backside of the memorial, you'll find another pair of lion statues. These statues sport women's torsos coupled with lion bodies. According to Ann, upon seeing the lioness statues with their pointed bosoms, Mrs. Stanford ordered a second pair, believing that the male lions would be more suitable for guarding the entrance to the tomb. But she allowed the lioness statues to be placed at the rear of the tomb. That's where Stanford lovers preferred to hold their trysts! Hmm...

The Stanfords
Here's a more traditional bronze sculpture of the Stanford family. Their son died very young, a tragedy for his parents, of course. Notice that Mrs. Stanford is kneeling in this piece -- an unusual position for her, it seems. There has been a continuous controversy regarding her death. The rumor goes that she was poisoned, a notion that has never been proven but intrigues Stanford family scholars to this very day. There is much to learn about the family, many traditions and lore associated with their lives and their deaths as well, which adds to the charm of this rather out-of-the-way memorial to them on the campus grounds.

This is an impressive sculpture located near the David Packard Electrical Engineering Building. It's the perfect piece of art for engineering students -- a huge slab of perfectly sculpted granite that is also a computer-controlled clock. It's called Timetable. Water continually flows over it without a ripple, a peaceful respite for harried students. 

FYI: the public are welcome to wander around the Stanford campus and view the outdoor sculptures. There are more than 70 pieces to see scattered throughout the grounds. Docent tours are available, free on the first and third Sunday of every month. Pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour. Parking is free on weekends and in the evenings. Stop by if you're in the area. It's definitely worth it.

Find it here!     

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