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Mule sculpture on WSU Pullman campus taken away to be reworked

Sharp-eyed Cougs might have noticed a change on the Pullman campus this year.

“A World Beyond,” artist Brad Rude’s bronze sculpture of a mule on top of a wagon, is gone.

The sculpture on Stadium Way near Bustad Hall came to the Pullman campus in 2004, part of an ambitious art installation showcasing works fabricated at the Walla Walla Foundry.

The bronze mule and its fanciful decorations have held up just fine, said Janae Huber, collections manager for the Art in Public Places program at the Washington State Arts Commission. The wooden wagon deck, however, is another matter.

“The decking for the wagon is not durable,” she said. She added that the commission no longer acquires wood pieces for its outdoor collections because they don’t hold up in Washington’s climate.

The sculpture was acquired for the State Art Collection after the exhibition in Pullman, with support from WSU. Also added as a result of the Walla Walla Foundry show was the blue heart on Stadium Way, by renowned artist Jim Dine, and a bronze sculpture by John Buck that’s located on the plaza outside the Smith Center.

Rude, the artist who created “A World Beyond,” has the piece at his studio in Walla Walla and will rework it. Huber said the wagon bed could be re-created in bronze, or “it’s possible the artist may reconceive the wagon bottom as a different kind of structure.” The cost will mostly be covered by the arts commission, though WSU could pick up part of the tab if the university has specific requests on how the work is reconfigured, she said.

Whatever the fix, it will be returned to the Pullman campus once it’s done.

“We have such a good partnership with WSU,” Huber said.