Public art donation provides beauty, represents personal connections to ASU

"Pyrenean Stones," a bronze sculpture by Seattle-based artist Julie Speidel, has a new home on the ASU Tempe campus. The public art piece arrived at ASU by way of connections with alumni, a former ASU professor and a family’s choice to share its affinity for modern architecture and design with students and campus visitors.

Don and Marilyn Hollis attended a sculpture dedication ceremony at ASU on Jan. 29. Don Hollis believes that young people broaden their thinking during the time that they spend at a university, which he feels is the appropriate opportunity to enrich their environment with fine art.

“We now have the privilege of sharing a work of art that is inspirational to our family with students and the campus visitors,” Hollis said. “We are honored to have a family heirloom positioned in a public place.”

The Hollis’ daughter, Heather, is an ASU alumna. She met her husband, Thomas Sweeny, at ASU, and both graduated in the 1990s. Extending beyond the Hollis family ties to ASU, the artist herself has a special ASU connection.  

“Speidel’s stepfather, Professor Robert Sinclair Dietz, was a geology professor at ASU from 1977 to 1985,” Hollis added. “Placing Speidel’s work at ASU honors her personally.”

Speidel met the Hollises through Linda Cordermen, a friend of the Hollis family who networked with artists, architects and builders. The Hollises commissioned Speidel to create Pyrenean Stones to enhance the family’s modern architecture style home in Paradise Valley, Ariz. After more than a decade of complementing the Hollises’ desert landscaping, Pyrenean Stones finds its way to ASU following the family’s decision to downsize its dwelling.

“We are very pleased that the Hollis family selected ASU as the new home for Pyrenean Stones,” said Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer at ASU. “The personal connections that both the Hollis family and the artist share with ASU is meaningful to us.”

Placing Speidel’s Pyrenean Stones on the Tempe campus underpins the university’s desire to incorporate public art on its campuses as part of its continuing campus-wide improvements and transformation.

“We always welcome campus-enhancement opportunities that result in the deepening of our rich learning environment and improve the aesthetic quality of our campuses," Olsen added.

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