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Gonzalez-Torres Artwork to Come Down with Long’s Bookstore Demolition

When the iconic Long’s Bookstore building at 1836 N. High St. meets the wrecking ball in early October, Félix González-Torres’s “Untitled (For Parkett),” a billboard-sized artwork, will come down with it. The installation at Long’s Bookstore was the final stage in the lifespan of the work, with González-Torres’s intention for the piece to be complete when hung for public view.

“Untitled (For Parkett)” came to The Ohio State University as part of the 2015 exhibition Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne, which featured a selection of work by some of the most renowned artists of the last 50 years, including Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Mike Kelley, David Hammons, Tony Smith and many others.  In addition to the exterior of Long’s Bookstore, pieces from the expansive exhibition were on view at Urban Arts Space and Hopkins Hall Gallery.

Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne toured to three other major university-based museums, with Ohio State being the only venue that could accommodate the González-Torres work. The 125 inch x 272 inch piece was installed on the façade of the vacant Long’s building because of its campus location and visibility to students, faculty and the community. Blake Byrne — whose father was an Ohio State alumnus — presented “Untitled (For Parkett)” to Ohio State with the knowledge it would be destroyed with the building.

Valarie Williams, executive director of Ohio State’s Arts Initiative, said, “Thanks to the generosity of Blake Byrne we were able to bring ‘Untitled (For Parkett)’ to Columbus and present the work the way González-Torres intended. It was a great honor to share that with the city.”

15th Avenue and High Street Gateway, Arts District

Long’s Bookstore and adjacent buildings are being torn down to make way for a long-imagined transformation for the historic intersection and campus gateway at 15th Avenue and High Street, according to Amanda Hoffsis, president of Campus Partners for Community Redevelopment, the university’s non-profit development arm, “The installation of the work by Felix González-Torres on the former Long’s building was a symbolic expression that foreshadowed the rebirth of this important crossroad between the university arts community on the west side of High Street and the neighborhood on the east side,” she said.

The conceptual plans for the transformation of 15th and High is expected to create grand public spaces and a new arts plaza.

Adds David Manderscheid, executive dean and vice provost, College of Arts and Sciences, “It’s exciting to see the renewal of this key campus gateway get underway, and to envision the Arts District as it takes shape. As it evolves, this intersection will become a dynamic hub of artistic, educational and commercial exchange, enhancing creative and scholarly relationships between the university and the broader Columbus community.”   

The College of Arts and Sciences is the academic heart of Ohio State. With more than 80 departments, schools, centers and institutes, the college delivers 60 percent of the academic curriculum to Ohio State students. Its vast academic diversity is its greatest strength, combining the best of a major research institution with a rich liberal arts foundation. Arts and Sciences faculty create new knowledge to solve global problems, fuel Ohio's economy, spark student inquiry, and engage with the local community.

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Victoria Ellwood
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