'Covenant' Graces Superblock Plaza's Promised Land

by Mark Cohen
DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN
September 4, 1975, p. 1


That big, red thing which graces Superblock Plaza has received any groans, a few cheers and a lot of astonished looks.

"Covenant", a 50-foot welded steel sculpture by Alexander Lieberman, cost the University over $100,000--$20,000 of it in labor costs. It was purchased to comply with a city ordinance that requires one per cent of all expenditures for city-assisted constr uction to be used to purchase art.

However, many students disagree with the University's aesthetic taste. It's "gross," "hideous," "obnoxiously spastic," "terrible and ostentatious" and "a waste of money" according to some students.

"That's sculpture?" asked Frank Jaffe, a resident of High Rise North. "Do you think I could get a contact to pub one up?" he offered. "I need the money."

Even the art students don't like it. One fine arts major said, "this doesn't even merit my talking about. I called 'We Lost' [College Green's share of one per cent art] 'The Vision of Death and the Epitome of Mediorcrity' but I don't have a name for this one yet."

The sculpture does have its numerous supporters, but they were not as verbose--nor as funny--as its detractors, and usually limited their comments to a modest "I like it." Some commented on its imposing nature or its color, and one student said it provide d "a nice entrance" to the high-rises.

Jack Hershey, an employee of the University City Science Center, said, "I think the scale factor's good. Most of the sculpture around here is too small. I like the color, but I'm afraid it might get dull."

Several students tried to explain the deeper meanings of this awesome work of art. "It looks like cosmic soda straws." "Giant ketchup bottles." "I think it's an excellent nuclear reactor." "It looks like making love in the back seat of a car."

The sculpture has made a definite impact upon the life of Superblock, and while some students think it is much more appropriate for the surrounding architecture than "We Lost" is on College Green, other students take a more personal view. One sophomore wh o lives in High Rise North asked "Why do we have it in front of our high-rise? Why couldn't they put it up near the other ones?"

Whether you love it or hate it, "Covenant" is here to stay. And if you get sick every time you see it, remember those who witnessed its slow birth at the hands of welders and painters. As one summer school students said, "I watched it go up all summer, a nd I think it got worse as it went along."

[photo. caption: ART again graces the University , as "Covenant" was delivered and situated in Superblock Plaza during the summer. "Covenant" joins "We Lost" and "Wounded Knee" as the University's contribution to the finer things in life.]