David Hayes: Sculptures, Maquettes, and Gouaches

September 17 - December 31, 1989

O'Shaughnessy Gallery East and the Museum grounds
The Snite Museum of Art
University of Notre Dame

Exhibition continues January 23 - May 6, 1990
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana


Ever since the opening of The Snite Museum of Art in 1980, we have been searching for the sculpture for one of the most visible spots on campus, the front lawn of the Museum. It would be the hallmark of the fine arts experience awaiting the Museum visitor and would be done by an outstanding artist.

Museum staff and the Campus Sculpture Committee discussed several candidates, many of whom are well-known in the art community and whose names frequently surface when public commissions arise. One sculptor's name came up repeatedly, that of David Hayes, a 1953 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1955 recipient of a master of fine arts degree from Indiana University. Both his alma maters were the sites of one-man shows in 1962, and both have been eager to repeat the mutually beneficial experience. We are delighted that David has returned to our campus and that he will be exhibiting at the Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, at the invitation of Dr. Adelheid Gealt, director.

When we began viewing David's work for this second shared exhibition, we asked him to create maquettes, small-scale studies, for a large, outdoor piece to be permanently installed on campus. The three maquettes he created made our selection very difficult, but the final, unanimous vote was for Griffon. What better mythical beast, with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion, to demarcate, to guard, and, especially, to welcome.

David Hayes states: "In the last 20 years there's been a resurgence of art in public places. When art is a viable part of the culture, not just confined to museum interiors, anyone and everyone sees that piece of sculpture. A little bit rubs off on you. That is the culture and aesthetic of art - it's unavoidable."

His forms have an organic quality about them, like plants springing from the ground, erupting in unpredictable shapes. Some sculptures will appear playful and imaginative in color and shape; others will seem austere and even threatening in size and blade patination. Those seeking an easy answer to "What is it?," will be challenged, as befits a mythical, mysterious creature.

To all, David's sculptures are engaging, inviting the viewer to participate. They require the viewer to close in, to step back, to walk around, to move physically as well as visually; there is seldom one optimum view. One is encouraged to exchange with the sculpture in order to "see how well, nor not, the art works as a piece and how the parts are keyed together."

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The creation of Griffon and the exhibition are the result of the generosity and effort of many individuals. Our thanks to David Hayes for honoring us with this one-man show. William C. Ballard, Jr., Class of 1962, by creating The Humana Foundation Endowment for American Art, has helped to underwrite creation of the piece, and Michael McLoughlin, Class of 1969, president of K and M Machine-Fabricating, Inc. has helped to underwrite exhibition costs. We are most grateful to both. We appreciate Mr. and Mrs. Earl Marhanka's continuing support of public sculpture projects in this region and the invaluable assistance of Thelda Matthews, art director of K and M, for coordinating activities between artist, fabricator and client.

We are deeply indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Decio for their generous grant to help underwrite this exhibition and Three Universities Collect: 20th-Century Works on Paper. Their generosity enabled us to undertake three major projects.

Charles Lennon, director of the ND Alumni Association, continues to lend much-appreciated support to exhibitions of works by Notre Dame graduates.

To President Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., Executive Vice President Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., and all members of the Campus Sculpture Committee, we express our gratitude for their support of the project. Members of The Snite staff, particularly Douglas Bradley, Rev. James Flanigan, C.S.C., Gregory Denby, John Phegley, Diann Nelson, Sue Fitzpatrick, and Anne T. Mills, have once again worked so successfully as a team. To any and all unnamed others, for help in so many ways, my sincere thank you.


Dean A. Porter, Ph. D.


I was studying the work in the gallery very closely, concentrating, pondering, lost in the world of drawing, sculpture, labels, titles, dimensions, materials; just following my usual gallery routine. I began to feel uneasy. I felt something looming behind me, as if someone was getting too close. I sneaked a slow look over my right shoulder, carefully, so as to not to embarrass or be embarrassed. I was right. There was something there. Not a person, but the welded steel hulk of a David Hayes sculpture. A presence. That was in 1962, in this same gallery on the occasion of an exhibition of David's work. Is it significant that I remember that experience? And does it say something about David or about me? I don't know, but I still remember it. Now, 27 years later, different times, different sculptures, same artist, but new experience for a new audience. Light-hearted, joyful, lyrical, dancing, floating, centrifugal, nearly accidental (the way a bouquet is unplanned), Cabalistic arabesques, cryptic letters tiptoeing on each other, intersecting, penetrating, becoming words, sentences, paragraphs, books.

But the meaning?
The WHAT? of them. What material? What paint? What title? What size? What date?
The HOW? of them. How begun? How thought of? How made? How cut? How bolted? How welded? How assembled? How sited?
The WHY? of them. Why black? Why colors? Why these shapes? Why titles? Why no titles? Why this size?
The WHERE? of them. Where do they come from? Where will they go?

We ask these questions. There are some answers, many more questions. When all the questions are answered and all the answers questioned, we know what they're about. We understand them. We "get it." But what do we "get;" what understand? By gathering all the vital statistics, do we know what they are? Is "knowing" them what we ought to be about?

In the end there is just the sculpture. It is there. It is real. It exists. It has a presence. It is. It looks over our shoulder. Meet it!

Rev. James Flanigan, C.S.C.