Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Alma Mater

So, this weekend, Laurie and I took a secret trip down to Los Angeles (we didn't do anything particularly secret.  We've just learned that announcing to the world on social media that we will be away from our house for several days may not be the wisest tool to use from our box of life-choices.)  I'll have more on what we did specifically throughout the weekend in a forthcoming post (the other camera with pictures from the rest of the weekend is in Laurie's purse and she is at work, so I thought I would do this post right now.)  On Sunday afternoon, Laurie, my grandmother and I took a trip to my alma mater, the Nourishing Mother of my education, the campus of Chapman University in the city of Orange, California. 

Chapman University is a top tier private university.  As much as I like to beat the autodidact drum, I really do have a degree from an excellent university.  Part of the reason I wanted to visit the campus on Sunday was, of course, nostalgia.  But another reason was to take pictures of the buildings to show you here on my blog.  I absolutely love the architecture of Chapman.  Besides being an excellent university, it also boasts an excellent campus.

Here is the theater and visual arts building where I spent the lion's share of my time as a student (you'll note the bust of my beloved Mozart in the foreground.)  I believe it's the only building on campus that is actually ivy covered.  The darker building to the right is the large theater for the use of the theater department in educational or performance needs (seats about 250.)  The lighter, smaller building to the left is the Guggenheim Gallery where many of my close friends had art shows, poetry readings, experimental music concerts and so forth.  Down the hall between the buildings lie the classrooms and the small black box theater (seats about 30ish) where I performed my one-man show The Phoenix in my Senior year.

Here's the view if you turn about sixty degrees to your left from the photo above.  It looks down toward the library on the left, the stadium straight ahead.

Here is the Music building which is called Oliphant Hall.  It's a newer building.  The Music Department is one of Chapman's more celebrated disciplines (a list which also includes Film, Law, Business, Religion and, in full awareness of my natural bias on the topic, I would say Theater and Dance as well.)  I used to sit on a bench outside of the windows and listen to people practicing their art within.  I especially remember someone, I never learned who, over the course of two months practicing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue every day during my lunch hour.  They had no idea how much pleasure I derived from hearing their gradual improvement.
This is the building in the front courtyard by Glassell and University Drive.  I think it's the Psych department.

Here is Memorial Hall.  Over to the left (just out of frame) would be the window to the President's office (my grandmother wanted me to mention that she watches and enjoys his television show regularly.)  Within the building is also a 900 seat theater which would be used for major campus events.  I met Ray Bradbury, Allen Ginsberg, and Edward Albee at different times in that building.

Ah, here is the lovely, new Leatherby Library.  I spent a lot of time in the earlier incarnation of that building.  I think the new one is gorgeous and contained within is a world class university library.  The fountain outside is also new.

This is also new.  This is the All Faiths Chapel.  It's huge!  Much to my chagrin, it has been locked every time I've tried to visit, but I can look in the door and see a gloriously large, white, minimalistic chapel.  You can take a virtual tour on their website.

A few words on the sculpture integrated into the campus: there is a great deal of wonderful modern sculpture around the campus (I'm told that one of Chapman's key contributors, George Argyros, is an avid modern sculpture aficionado) which compliments the post-modern, eclectic architectural styles of the buildings nicely.  Whoever is planning the Chapman Campus is doing a fantastic job.

I will say one thing that isn't a critique so much as an observation.  I feel that they are at bust capacity.  I noticed a lot of busts around campus, probably twice as many as when I attended a mere decade ago.  There are nearly 30 now and I think if they get any more they will approach clutter.  As it stands they are a nice compliment to the aura of the campus, projecting a fine collegiate atmosphere and focal points for the students to aspire toward.  Although, some I am decidedly delighted to have on that campus (Mozart, Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Puccini, Ella Fitzgerald) while others I am highly disappointed that someone felt that they were worthy of enshrining (Ayn Rand?  Really?)  Still, the key placement of Albert Schweitzer as the sort of "campus centerpiece" has always been a point of pride for me.
Here is that lovely fountain between the library and the music building.

Finally, Chapman is an old campus.  It was established in 1861 (although it wasn't established in its present location until the early 1950s.)  The picture below did not enjoy the good focus of the rest of our visit, but I included it to show the wonderful old tree outside of the theater building, under which I sat studying for many hours.  For size comparison, Laurie and my grandmother are the two figures to the right.
I would recommend Chapman to anyone.  It is one of the finest private universities on the West Coast.  It is also one of the more pleasant places to visit in Orange County.

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