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Writer: Bradley Paul
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

UI Museum of Art displays studies for Field House mural

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Karl Wirsum: Sports and 'Just Us What Past Before Us'," an exhibition including the artist's final studies for a mural in the University of Iowa Field House, will be on display Feb. 1 through April 20 in the UI Museum of Art.

The exhibition will also feature a selection of other paintings, drawings and sculpture devoted to sports imagery, a frequent theme in Wirsum's art.

In conjunction with the exhibition, museum director Stephen Prokopoff will give a talk on the Field House project and Karl Wirsum as part of the weekly Perspectives series at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 in the museum.

The mural "Just Us What Past Before Us" was commissioned last spring by the Art on Campus Committee as part of an Iowa State Senate initiative, "Art in State Buildings." The initiative mandates that 0.5% of the cost of newly constructed or extensively remodeled buildings be used to purchase or commission art for public display in the buildings.

The Field House mural is composed of 10 highly stylized, brightly colored sports figures, ranging from eight-and-one-half to 23 feet in length. Like Wirsum's other work, the mural is based on the idea of the "personage," a figurative image that combines aspects of human and animal forms.

Though he has always declined to label his style or attach himself to a particular artistic movement, critics have seen in Wirsum's work the style of the Chicago Imagists. Like other artists from this group, Wirsum emphasizes technical precision and a lively imagination that takes inspiration from the comics and other vernacular arts.

In addition to painting, Wirsum is well known for his painted sculptures. He has also worked on a number of films.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni Center, which is just north of the museum.