While we were in Austin last week we saw a dramatic 50-foot diameter structure composed of roughly 75 canoes and a few rowboats jutting out at various angles. The boats are suspended from a steel framework by cables, with a design claimed to withstand Austin’s winds.
Some of the boats are damaged boats donated by canoe rental companies, still showing their logos. I tried to imagine the rapids that could lead to such a massive, beautiful disaster. The structure represents the far end of a spectrum that has my wood and canvas canoe quietly plying a Wellfleet pond at the other end.
A few students, assuming that the sculpture was funded through tuition, started a change.org petition asking the University to return their tuition money.
Unveiled on January 17, the canoe nest is the newest piece in the Landmarks collection, the University’s public art program. It sits in front of the Hackerman Building at the corner of Speedway and 24th Street. Eventually it will be part of a larger outdoor art project stretching a half dozen blocks along Speedway, with a pedestrian walkway.