Skip to main content

180 Degree Rotation, Red

Who Am I? Exhibition

Published onAug 24, 2020
180 Degree Rotation, Red

180 Degree Rotation, Red, 1980
Harvey K. Littleton (American, 1922–2013)
Blown and formed glass
This work of art was purchased with monies donated to the Kenneth Schumacher Memorial Fund by Sandra and David Altman, Dorothy and Harvey Andersen, The Bruce and Alice Annear Family, Tonya and Michael Annear, Bernadette and Ambrose Anthofer, Beverly and Duane Baker, Penny and John Barnts, Vera Bass, Daniel Beaver-Seitz, Jan and George Beran, Mary Bonney, Elaine and Reid Bowman, Coon Rapids High School Class of ’67, Patti Cotter and Peter Orazem, Reid Crawford, Fike Corporation, Sarah Fischer and Timothy Kearns, Lula Garnes, Nancy and John Gerken, Connie and Gordon Gymer, Molly and Matthew Helmers, Deb and Rudy Herrmann, ISU Focus Committee, Jane and John Jacobson, April Katz, Barbara and Tim Leeds, Phyllis and Larry Lepke, Janet and Robert Mahan, Rhoda and Richard Mansbach, Helen Neilsen, C.J. and Wes Niles, Janice and John Pearson, Randi and Steven Peters, Julie and Ken Pingrey, Lynette and John Pohlman, Sharon and John Richardson, Sharon and Richard Rodine, Dana, Kurt and Peter Schumacher, Melinda and Jeffrey Schumacher, Jo and Tom Schumacher, John Schumacher, The Schwartz Family, Cynthia Shumate Julie Scott and James Fluck, Cynthia and Gary Seastrom, Joy Seeley, Sue and Steve Seidl, Mack Shelley, Jan and Joe Shirbroun, Diana Shonrock, Gaye and Don Simonson, Clare Smith-Larson and Skip Larson, Harold and Maxine Smouse, Scott Stetcher, Betty Toman, Valerie Williams and Larry Gleason, Joyce and Paul Wray, Alan Yeager with additional acquisition funding provided by Arthur Klein, Rachel Flint, and the generosity and support of Maurine Littleton. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Artist’s Statement

“A man cannot educe forms from hot glass by conceiving of it as a cold, finished material. He must see it hot on the end of his pipe as it emerges glowing from the furnace: he must have a sense of wonder!”

Harvey K. Littleton, excerpt from Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass, 2012, by Joan Falconer Byrd, Skira Rizzoli Publications Ltd., NYC.

Interpretation 1

“Harvey K. Littleton is a rebel. His unceremonious removal from the blowing-room floor of a glass factory on the island of Murano in 1958 was less an affront to him than a challenge to defy the secrecy that had fettered glassmaking for centuries. The incident struck at the heart of a passion Littleton had nurtured since childhood. On his return to Wisconsin, he began his investigations of the material in his ceramics kiln; and by the following year, he was eager to share his results at the Annual Conference of American Craftsmen. However flawed, the yellowish chunks of glass he displayed were hard evidence of his resolve to bring the material within the reach of the artist.”

Excerpt from the Preface of Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass, 2012, by Joan Falconer Byrd.

Interpretation 2

We cannot view Harvey Littleton’s 180 Degree Rotation, Red, without remembering our friend Ken Schumacher. This sculpture entered the University Museums’ collection through memorial funding coming from family, friends, and community after Ken’s passing in 2014.

An Iowa farm boy, like so many young men at Iowa State in the 1960s and ‘70s, Ken experienced the essence of what a university education is all about—not just classroom learning, but the enlightenment of new interests.  Ken discovered the performing and visual arts. Starting with a part-time technical theater job at the then new Iowa State Center, Ken’s life continued in this direction, taking him to different theaters in increasingly challenging technical and administrative roles, leading to his nine-year tenure as production manager at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City.

One of Ken’s special talents was theatrical lighting and with the encouragement of University Museums Director and Chief Curator, Lynette Pohlman, he began lighting exhibitions. The first was Dale Chihuly: A Decade in Glass in 1986. Ken designed and installed the lighting for many more Brunnier Art Museum exhibitions that followed. One of the most memorable was an exhibition of the glass artist Harvey Littleton. Ken met Harvey Littleton and, as a volunteer, lit the retrospective Littleton exhibition at the Brunnier. This experience launched a lifetime love of contemporary glass sculpture for Ken and his wife Dana, an ISU Dance faculty member, academic advisor, and Honors Program administrator.

However, when we study 180 Degree Rotation, Red, we see more than just the obvious connections. We see the commonalities between an individual life and a work of art.  We see the multiple dimensions of this glass sculpture and we think fondly of Ken’s wide-ranging, witty, wry, and often humorous comments about contemporary society, particularly its politics. He was famous in Ames for his concise yet pithy letters to the newspaper editor, which always ended with a thought-provoking sentence putting just the right point on his message.

Lynette has written that this Littleton sculpture, “exhibits the virtuosity of glass in its ability to be both reflective and transparent, powerful and fragile.”  Ken was a lighting virtuoso, analyzing and clarifying his subject while emphasizing its beauty or intrigue; like Harvey Littleton’s artistry, Ken’s work brought life to glass. 

Ken shared his passions with Dana and his sons, Kurt and Peter.  Fortunately for us, he was also one of our dearest friends and we miss his presence at gatherings of our famous Gang of 8, a group of long-time friends with ties to the arts. It is hard to imagine that he has been gone for more than six years now, but his spirit is alive in our hearts—and in the glass he so beautifully lit.

Harvey Littleton’s 180 Degree Rotation, Red is exactly the right memorial remembrance of Ken Schumacher.

Phyllis and Larry Lepke
University Museums donors retired from Iowa State and private business careers


No comments here

Why not start the discussion?