Pine Room sculpture to go on sale

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 04:49 PM

A sculpture commissioned for a once popular student hangout at UNC will be on exhibit and for sale beginning Sunday, with proceeds going to UNC’s Art Department.

The sculpture by the late UNC art professor Robert Howard will go on view Sunday at the Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh. The university commissioned Howard, who taught at the university from 1951-1988, to create the sculpture for the Pine Room, a sandwich and coffee shop once housed in the Lenoir Hall basement. The sculpture, in nine separate sections, went on view beginning in 1962, where it remained until Lenoir Hall underwent renovations in the 1990s, Hansley said.
After the renovation, Howard’s sculpture was displayed in the stairwell of the Robert B. House Undergraduate Library, then in Hanes Art Center until a few months ago, Hansley said.
Because of its size, each section will be priced separately. Hansley had not yet decided on a price earlier this week. The Art Department, which currently owns the sculpture, approached him about the sale and exhibit, he said.
The Art Department just does not have the space and facilities to store and preserve the piece, said James Hirschfield, department chairman. “It’s a very large piece and we could not display it properly. Rather than just have it sit in storage and perhaps deteriorate, we felt that it would be nice if it had a home,” he said. If Hansley is able to sell the sculpture, the money will go toward scholarships for students in the Art Department, Hirschfield said.
Except for one section that Howard made with metal, the sculptures are wood, and any buyer will need to display the pieces in a protected area, Hansley said. Each section represents a different academic discipline – among them geology, journalism, chemistry and visual art.
Hansley often went to the Pine Room when he was a student at UNC. He described it as the place where “the counterculture people of Chapel Hill” congregated in the 1960s and 1970s. “There are people who gathered in the Pine Room who might want to own a piece of the Pine Room for nostalgic reasons,” he said.
Two sculptures from Howard’s “Landscape” series, made of steel and fiberglass, are on permanent view on the lawn at Hanes Art Center at UNC. Howard’s first solo exhibit was in 1951 in Person Hall, which was at the time the university’s art gallery, according to the UNC website.
Howard, who died in 1999, also has sculptures in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Federal Building in Louisville, Kentucky, and many other museums and public sites. His work was included in an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art titled “Sculpture of the Sixties” that highlighted the work of 20 major sculptors of the time.
The Howard exhibit will run concurrent with works by Chattanooga sculptors Roger Halligan and Jan Chenoweth.


WHAT: Opening reception for UNC’s Pine Room sculpture

WHEN: Sunday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit continues through July 30.
WHERE: Lee Hansley Gallery, 225 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh
ADMISSION: Free, but sculpture is for sale  More information is at