Title: "Towers Art Project," more commonly known as "The Three Mushrooms"
Sculptor: Anthony Padavano
Location: South of the Towers Center
Date Installed: June 1973
Larger Associated Project: The Towers residence halls Bender and Dancer Halls. The sculpture was added after the Towers were completed because the first artist's proposal was not accepted.
Description: Three large mushroom-like objects are set parallel to the Towers Center. The far left object sits close to the ground with the rounded side up. The middle "mushroom" has a concave surface and is set a short distance away. In a 1981 photograph printed in the Northern Iowan, three young children are shown riding their bicycles in circles around the inside of this section of the sculpture. The final "mushroom" is taller than the other two objects and looks very much like the fungus. It has a convex surface, like the left mushroom, and stands above the other two. In stark contrast to the neutral colors present in the buildings and plaza, the sculpture was painted a shade of red called red-barn oxide.
Critical Reaction: Many students thought this sculpture was not as attractive as others on campus, but they approved of how the bright red color added to the area. Overall, students thought the sculpture was meaningless, too expensive, and did not fit in with the surrounding architecture.
Other: Space is the overall theme of the sculpture. Padavano based the artwork on his impression of Iowa as a "vast space within a finite space," where the land and the sky meet. To capture "...man's desire for outer and inner space experience..." he created a sculpture that "...suggest[s] spaceship movement." His intention was for the students to sit on the sculpture and use it as a performance stage. However, most students do not because "The Mushrooms" are exposed to the full force of the sun.
Compiled by Susan Basye
Special Collections and University Archives