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Tenants of a Successful Student Found in Public Artist Bill Barrett

Posted on February 9, 2024 at 10:03 AM by Monet Butler

Born to an artistic family in Los Angeles, Bill Barrett (United States, b. 1934) has worked for many decades to emulate organic forms through sculpture, painting, and jewelry making.

Photo of Bravo 3 a bronze sculpture outdoors with trees and a campanile in the background

One such example is the public work of art Bravo III stationed outside of the Gerdin Business Building within the Ivy College of Business. Sculpted in 2005, the bronze sculpture immediately draws the attention of students and faculty alike. Delicately balanced and harmonious, this sculpture seems in continuous motion. Barrett is known to take inspiration from calligraphy, dance, and music and Bravo III exemplifies the marriage of a pen stroke, a dancer mid-air, and a flowing harp perfectly. Each of his works of art, through bronze or a paintbrush, creates a playful path for the viewer’s eye.

Bill Barrett smiling with a maquette of his bronze sculpture Bravo 3

Other examples of Barrett’s creations on campus include Oil Painting #2 from Barrett’s Memory Series. Found within Simon Estes Music Hall on campus, this bold painting has an accompanying musical composition. Point Counterpoint was created in response to the painting by Music Professor Jeffery Prater. Similarly to Bravo III, this painting is organic in nature, with a precarious balance. The defining characteristic of Oil Painting #2 is its use of color and hidden musical symbols. A quarter rest is tilted coyly at an angle, where an eighth note is mirrored lying on its side. What seems at first glance to be chaotic, upon second glance shows a thoughtful composition of music in motion.

Oil Painting Number 2 showing colorful abstract musical symbolsBill Barrett posing on one leg with one arm in the air as if he were dancing and next to his artwork Oil Painting Number 2 which has colorful abstract musical symbols

Barrett is a cornerstone in the American modernism movement. Works of art in this movement reject historical norms and instead, continually push the boundaries. It is undeniable that Bravo III pushes the boundaries of form. This is why it is apt that this sculpture was placed outside of the Gerdin Business Building, Ivy College of Business, the building of entrepreneurship and a guide to the ever-changing world. The delicate balance struck in this sculpture also emulates the balancing of fiscal accounts, something constantly happening inside the Ivy College of Business. It is even more fitting seeing as this work is a part of the Art on Campus Collection, aimed to provide public works of art to enhance campus through intellectual relevance. The tenants of a successful student are found in Barrett, a lifelong learner of his many crafts.


Monet Butler
University Museums Pohlman Fellow
ISU Class of 2026 | Political Science

Bravo III, 2005
Bill Barrett (American, b. 1934)
Purchased with funds from the College of Business. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University. U2007.36

Photo of Bill Barrett with his maquette of Bravo III, 2005
Gift of Bill and Debora Barrett. In the Art on Campus Preparatory Studies and Maquette Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM2008.605

Oil Painting #2 from the Memory Series, 1999
Bill Barrett (American, b. 1934)
Oil on canvas
Anonymous gift. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2010.50

Photo of Bill Barrett posing with Oil Painting #2 from the Memory Series

Categories: Artists, Students

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