Tribute raises $95K towards master sculptor’s final project, campaign

Picture from the tribute of the students who worked with Jesus Moroles.

Tribute raises $95K towards master sculptor’s final project, campaign


Family, friends and admirers of master sculptor Jesús Moroles gathered for a tribute to his legacy in September while raising funds to complete his final project, Coming Together Park, an installation at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

The event, Coming Together: A Tribute to Jesús Moroles was held at The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum Welcome Center in Oklahoma City on Sept. 10.

The event, hosted by USAO President John Feaver and Ken Fergeson, recipient of the 2014 Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Lifetime Achievement Award and chairman of the NBC Oklahoma, raised more than $95,000 through a combination of ticket sales, proceeds from an art auction, sponsorships and gifts.

Fergeson served as event chair and emcee.  Miles Tolbert, Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment from 2003-08, served as auctioneer during the event’s live auction.

Other presenters included USAO President John Feaver; Susanna Moroles, the artist’s sister; and Jan Tindale, artist and long-time friend.

The evening included tributes to Moroles, who died in an automobile accident in June, and an art auction that included an unfinished granite sculpture by Moroles.

The bidding for the unfinished sculpture was won by the USAO Foundation and will be housed in Dusty’s, the USAO campus grill, where it will overlook Coming Together Park.

Twenty-eight pieces of art donated by notable Oklahoma artists were sold during a silent auction and seven additional pieces of art were auctioned, along with a week’s vacation in Colorado and a private concert by master violinist Yuval Waldman during a live auction.

The First National Bank and Trust Company of Chickasha won the bidding for a bronze maquette of the statue of OCW alumna Te Ata Fisher, created by sculptor Jon Hair that adorns USAO’s signature Oval.

Waldman’s concert was gifted back to the university by winning bidders Tom and Ann Cordell, of Chickasha. The violin virtuoso is now scheduled to perform at the Ready, Set, Now Campaign celebration, held this year in conjunction with the university’s annual Donor Appreciation Banquet on Nov. 23.

Sponsors for the evening included: the Commerce Bank of Chickasha; The McLaughlin Family Foundation; John and Nan Willett of Kingwood, Texas; and others who wish to remain anonymous.

Attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks provided by Chef Derek Nettles, former executive chef for the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion and founder of Venue 104 Events and Catering.

In late April, Moroles was named the university’s artist-in-residence after having been commissioned to design and install Coming Together Park.

Moroles led a five-week independent study project with USAO students in May and had been teaching a summer term course.

At the time of his death, he was conducting an internship program with nine USAO students.

In total, the park, which Moroles called an “environmental installation,” covers a sprawling 40,000 square feet of the campus or slightly less than an acre.

Moroles, whose work is featured throughout the world, said the park would be the largest installation he has ever done in terms of space on the ground.

“I have built up but never across as much space as this will be,” he said.

In all, Moroles has more than 2,000 works in place in countries all over the world.

His most visible work Lapstrake is a 64-ton sculpture measuring more than 22 feet high that rests in the CBS Plaza in New York City.

Moroles, a Texas native, earned his BFA from North Texas State University.

He was awarded the 2008 National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush for his “enduring achievements as a sculptor of stone.” It is the highest achievement that an artist can receive from the U.S. government.

Moroles served on the board of commissioners for the Smithsonian Institution’s National American Art Museum and served for many years on the board of directors for the International Sculpture Center in Washington, D.C.

Coming Together Park is a project of the Ready, Set, NOW Campaign, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. The public phase of that campaign began in November 2013, after a year of conducting internal campaigns with faculty, staff and members of the Regents, USAO Foundation and Alumni Association boards.

The campaign funds five significant projects with an overall goal of $4.85 million.

The projects include: a four-year scholarship plan for current students; endowed scholarships to ensure aid for future students; renovations and lab upgrades for the Austin science hall; renovations to Nash Library; and the development and first-phase implementation of a comprehensive grounds master plan that includes the recent installation of a bronze statue of OCW icon Te Ata Fisher and Coming Together Park.

The campaign is scheduled to conclude at the November celebration and donor appreciation banquet.