Artist Mike Baur created this piece, sponsored by Ragle Dental Lab. Prow can be found on the southwest corner of First and Logan Streets in Champaign.
Artist Mike Baur is best known for his large-scale concrete and steel public sculptures. He states, “Weight, stability and permanence are important to me; this must be why industrial components, architectural forms and landscape have influenced my work” (Baur 2013). This influence can be seen in the work Prow through the structure balance he created. The work is structured and geometric, and there is a duality between the interacting pieces. One part is comprised of geometric triangular-like objects piled upon one another. The other part is a thinner tall arching element that reaches over the piled elements, balancing into the air. The piled shapes increase in size from the ground. One element could not exist without the other; their mutual dependence is based on them supporting one another. Simultaneously the work seems unbalanced but secure. Created from steel, the viewer can assume that the work is heavy and a slight unbalance between the elements could cause a catastrophic accident. The viewer must place their trust in the artist that the work is sound and stable. From there, the viewer can consider the careful “unity that industrial materials posses” (Baur 2013).
Titled “prow,” meaning the front of something, the viewer can consider the balance of the elements as the front and most important part of structural and human interactions. There is unity between the elements with the material and way the steel has aged from the elements. It has rusted to give the one smooth surface a gentile texture and red-brown hue. Placed in a small grassy knoll, the industrial nature of the work contrasts with the grass and tress. However, it ties in with the geometric architecture of nearby buildings.
Baur, M. (2013). Artist Statement. Excerpts taken from www.mikebaursculpture.com.