Gilberts buy 17-foot-tall sculpture for Campus Martius

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

A sculpture has been added to Campus Martius Park, courtesy of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and his wife.

Sal Rodriguez, 40, takes photos of his children, Sam Rodriguez, 8, left, and Alex Rodriguez, 10, with the sculpture "Waiting" by Kaws, aka Brian Donnelly, outside One Campus Martius in Detroit on May 21, 2018.

The 17-foot piece, dubbed "Waiting" by internationally renowned Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, known as KAWS, was bought by Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer Gilbert, for her Detroit Art Collection, which places art through Detroit's business district.

"Waiting" showcases a parent and child in a moment of pause and comprises more than two tons of bronze with a black patina. 

It features a figure known as "Companion," who has been part of KAWS’ vision since the early '90s. "Companion" shares a resemblance to Mickey Mouse but features KAWS’ signature soft skull-and-crossbones face and prominent crossed-out eyes.

KAWS, a former Disney animator, has spent 20 years creating art that's attracted brands, designers, galleries and fans across the world.

In a news release, KAWS said he's thrilled the Gilberts are installing his newest work, adding: "Detroit has an incredible cultural history and I’m proud to have my work permanently displayed in the city."

KAWS said "Companion" is a nostalgic character in the process of growing up, and the figure's relationship to its maker falls somewhere in the realm of avatar or inner child, often mirroring aspects of his own personality and journey through life.

The piece was acquired by the Library Street Collective for Gilbert's Detroit Art Collection, which has commissioned 27 internationally renowned artists since September 2016. Recent works from the collection include two 184-foot murals by Shepard Fairey and How & Nosm. 

“It is very important to us that the works we choose for the collection are both approachable and strategically located where everyone can enjoy them,” Jennifer Gilbert said in a statement. “We chose One Campus Martius as the location for Waiting because it is in the heart of the action, where the sculpture can become synonymous with downtown’s momentum.”

Campus Martius Park recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with members of the Downtown Detroit Partnership unveiling Detroit’s “Point of Origin.”

"KAWS is one of the most respected and sought after artists working today,” said Anthony Curis, Co-Founder of Library Street Collective. “His newest monumental work will be installed near Campus Martius, creating an engaging dialogue with both residents and visitors alike. WAITING marks a significant addition to the city’s contemporary art program."