New York City-based artist Gunnar Theel has donated his installation Skye Group (3) to the James A. Michener Art Museum in honor of the late Robin Larsen, founder and director of the New Hope Arts Center. On loan by the artist since 2007, the welded steel sculpture is on view outside of the Museum along Pine Street in Doylestown.
“Skye Group (3) has exerted a powerful presence on the Michener’s grounds for the past three years,” says Constance Kimmerle, the Museum’s Curator of Collections. “We are delighted to now add this innovative work to the Museum’s permanent collection in recognition of Robin Larsen and her tireless efforts for Bucks County’s artistic community.”
Theel comments, “Robin was instrumental in the founding of New Hope Arts, Inc. and its annual ‘Sculpture New Hope’ exhibition showcasing both indoor and outdoor works. Robin did a wonderful job indeed.”
Created between 1998 and 2005, Skye Group (3) consists of three steel structures each measuring over eight feet high. Theel describes his concept for this piece as beginning with the opening of a vessel; the part that is physically not there: “I literally conceived first the non-material opening, and then gave it shape by applying the material, in this case steel. I wanted the sculptures to reach out and open up, ‘like the flower reaching towards the sun,’ as someone observed.”
Aspects of Theel’s installation were also inspired by Stonehenge in England, a renowned prehistoric site of sun worship. As at Stonehenge, viewers are invited to “enter” Skye Group (3) to walk around and among the structures. Theel’s interest in architecture, “in this case the house in particular as vessel, body or shelter,” also influences his work.
Theel’s sculpture is part of such prestigious collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York; Museum of Modern Art in Jacksonville, Florida; Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey; Cedarhurst Sculpture Park in Mount Vernon, Illinois; and the National Memorial Archives in Washington, D.C. His work is also included in private collections both in the United States and abroad. Theel is represented by Sculpturesite Gallery in San Francisco, California.