Central Collection

Over the last few decades, new works of art have become a quintessential part of the Central landscape. Some are campus landmarks; others hold important memories. Come revisit some of these works by local and nationally known artists, and discover the stories behind them.


Sculpture of coach Ron Schipper

Sculpture of coach Ron Schipper.

A 7-foot bronze of coach Ron Schipper is right at home inside Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium, where the man himself served as head football coach from 1961-96.

The sculpture is by Brian Hanlon of Toms River, N.J., who has created more than 200 pieces of public art, including statues of Dean Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Yogi Berra and other sports legends. The sculpture was installed last year after gifts from many Dutch made it possible. Based on a photograph from a game in 1993, the piece evokes Schipper’s devotion to coaching Central students in football and life.



The street piano found near the steps of Geilser Library

The street piano is found near the steps of Geisler Library.

During the A Cappella Choir’s 2016 trip to Denver, students were inspired to create a street piano location for Central. Donated by sophomore Tyler Born’s family and decorated by music service society Mu Gamma Pi, it offers a place where anyone can play and fill the steps of Geisler Library with live music.

“We want the piano to be available to people of all skill levels,” says Wyatt Rath ’18, president of Mu Gamma Pi. “It’s the idea that music, beauty and art should be accessible to everyone.”

Mu Gamma Pi hopes the piano will become a landmark on campus where passersby can live out the quote by Robert Schumann that adorns the piano: “When you play, never mind who listens to you.”



"The Schulze Spirit" found in the Roe Center

“The Schulze Spirit” found in the Roe Center.

When Jim Schulze retired, generations of alumni searched for a way to honor his legacy at Central. Former students contributed artifacts, memories and money to commission this Roe Center painting by Tilly Woodward, immortalizing vivid memories of “Schulze.” You’ll spot his favorite mug, best-loved books, flying pig, and Mayan hammock, bordered by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s creed, “This is to have succeeded.”

Professor emeritus of psychology, Schulze taught at Central from 1968-2007. He taught many semesters in the Yucatan and continued arranging student homestays in a Mayan village after retirement. Schulze and his wife, Lisa Rock ’87, still spend winters in Yucatan, summers in Idaho, and spring and fall in Pella.


"The Great Circle" sculpture


If you look carefully, this sculpture frames keys memorials of Central history. If you approach from Maytag Student Center, you’ll see it encircles the old bell, resting on foundation stones from Central’s long-lost, original building. The two pieces connect when viewed from second-floor Maytag. And you can’t reach the entire sculpture without crossing “Lubbers’ Lagoon,” as the pond was known when first created.

Added in 1990, this steel and redwood sculpture was funded by a grant from Maytag Company Foundation. The winning design by Carl Reed was chosen from among 160 competitors and provoked vehement debate among students who found it aesthetically lacking. Today, the sculpture still connects themes and histories — just like Central’s never-ending pursuit of the liberal arts.



"The Other Side of Eden", found near the ChapelSculptor Andrew De Vries was inspired to create this dynamic piece when he watched a ballet dancer crash into a wall! De Vries, of Denver, had spent his first two years as an artist sketching dancers in motion before discovering his love for sculpture.

“The Other Side of Eden,” installed in 2002 near the Chapel, illustrates a powerful moment while expressing facets of the human condition — life and death, struggle and transformation, barriers and breakthrough. This sculpture was a gift from Jim and Marlyn Rietveld Ebbers.


"A Folding Crane" by Tom Thatcher, now found in the Vermeer Science Center


A young girl inspires a prayer for peace in the play “A Thousand Cranes,” based on the life of Sadako Sasaki. Born in Hiroshima during World War II, Sadako dies of “bomb disease,” or leukemia, while attempting to fold 1,000 paper cranes and receive her wish from the gods, as told in a Japanese legend.

Technical director Tom Thatcher created this award-winning sculpture for Central’s production of “A Thousand Cranes.” It now hangs inside the entrance of Vermeer Science Center. Thatcher’s professional set, lighting and sound designs have been seen in nearly 100 productions by schools, colleges, universities and professional dance and theatre companies. After its debut at Central, Thatcher’s “A Folding Crane” appeared in Theatre Design & Technology magazine and was exhibited at a national conference in Phoenix, Ariz.



Sculpture of Harold Geisler

Harold and Mavis Geisler met in tiny Mingo, Iowa, and attended the same high school, 10 years apart. Growing up during the Great Depression, neither was ever able to attend college. However, that didn’t prevent them from enjoying a lifelong devotion to books, learning and young people.

After the couple’s marriage in 1942, Harold was diagnosed with a serious lung disease. Mavis educated herself about the disease and became his caregiver, helping Harold outlive the illness by nearly 50 years. Harold died at age 83, after 56 years together. Mavis passed 10 years later in 2009.

After Harold’s death, Mavis commissioned this statue by Newton sculptor Nick Klepinger to celebrate Harold’s love for education and Central. Mavis loved seeing people interact with Harold’s likeness on his bench. So, when Central later commissioned another sculpture by Klepinger honoring Mavis, she requested the bench remain open for guests to sit with Harold.

The names of these sculptures, “The Quest” and “The Journey,” were winning student submissions by Steve Perkins ’01 and Joe Schwanebeck ’06, respectively.



"Personalize Your Masterpiece"When Intersections students teamed up with Iowa artist David Williamson in 2008, they created this sculpture from Lake Red Rock’s trash. The scrap materials, gathered on Service Day, were reformed as the class of 2012 helped design, cast and weld a new masterpiece. “Personalize Your Masterpiece” is now displayed in Maytag Student Center.



"Winged Victory"

It’s the elephant, the hatchet, the totem pole. When this 16-foot, 2,000-pound sculpture was installed on campus, its steel surface was painted black, gray, red, blue and yellow. Sculptor Tom Gibbs loved how Geisler Library rose dramatically behind the piece, saying it was one of the best environments he’d ever worked with.

Instantly an icon, the sculpture was commissioned in 1974 by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council with Paul and Joan Kuyper Farver. It was installed on Peace Mall in 1975.



"Larry's Frog"

When Roe Center’s building site was chosen, professor of art Larry Mills’ former home was torn down. When facilities’ staff presented Mills with the wood salvaged from his old walnut tree, he created this mural to grace the new building — plus all its smaller, hidden frogs!

The point is not simply to confront viewers with a giant frog, Mills said upon installation, but to show something new each time they see it. To an imaginative viewer, the frog’s gold-leaf eye becomes the sun, along with a ceramic moon and a swath of the galaxy.

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