The newest piece of permanent art hanging inside Ohio Wesleyan University’s L.A. Beeghly Library has a story to tell that’s as colorful as the 17-foot-by-6-foot canvas itself.
Its journey to Ohio Wesleyan began last fall when Justin Kronewetter, director of the Richard M. Ross Art Museum, received a telephone call from Chicago resident Phyllis Levin, contacting him at the suggestion of a Chicago gallery.
Levin and her husband, Michael, were expecting to move within the next six to nine months and would be unable to keep a large and colorful mixed media artwork by OWU alumnus and renowned artist Terence LaNoue ’64. The couple had owned the artwork, titled “Cargo Cult Wuvulu,” for some 20 years and wanted to donate it to Ohio Wesleyan. Intrigued, Kronewetter arranged a time to visit the Levins to examine the mixed-media creation and determine next steps.
Soon after, while driving to the East Coast to pick up art for an exhibition, Kronewetter got a second call from Chicago. The Levins had sold their home very quickly and had just 10 days to vacate. Could he pick up the artwork right away? Kronewetter said yes, quickly contacted Ohio Wesleyan to reserve a van to transport the large piece, and continued his trip east.
But it wasn’t long before his phone rang again. This time, the caller was from the gallery that had sold the Levins the LaNoue artwork two decades before. How many movers would Kronewetter be bringing? He answered “one,” only to learn that it would take at least three people just to remove the piece from the wall.
How big was the moving van? He said large enough to accommodate the artwork rolled along its 6-foot edge, but then learned that the piece could only be rolled in the other direction, meaning his vehicle would need to accommodate cargo more than 17 feet long.
Working with the gallery, Kronewetter decided to have professional art movers remove, crate, and ship the piece. The gallery recommended three companies, and Kronewetter recognized one as the Chicago-based firm that employed OWU alumnus and fine art major Timothy Albon ’11. Though Albon works out of the company’s Colorado location, he helped Kronewetter to make the right connections to get the artwork safely shipped to Ohio.
The painting was among the LaNoue pieces exhibited in May at the Ross Art Museum when the artist came to campus to celebrate his 50-year reunion with OWU classmates. Over the summer, Kronewetter worked with Stephen Perakis, the museum’s technician/preparator, and with OWU buildings and grounds staff to move the artwork to its permanent home in Beeghly Library. The group spent an afternoon installing the piece in its permanent location, a site best seen from the stair landing leading the second floor.
With such an epic tale to tell, it’s only appropriate that this artwork is surrounded by more than 555,000 books.