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Donald Lipski

"Acorn Steam"


Lipski artwork concept


Donald Lipski’s sculpture or “grand chandelier” in the form of a Valley Oak tree is situated at the crossroads of the axis lines of the terminal, giving it high visibility form the moment one disembarks the Automated People Mover. It will be a presence from the security area, a dramatic central focus in the food court area, and a way-finding center point, as it can be seen peeking beneath the arch of the entryways from the length of each arm of the concourse.

Titled Acorn Steam the sculpture is made of three massive, lifelike Valley Oak tree trunks that come together in the center, like the spokes of a propeller, then branch out into fully developed tree systems, creating a delicate canopy thirty feet in diameter. Each branch and twig will be hung with hand-cut and polished Austrian crystals (Swarovski), several thousand in all. The crystals will catch the light, both the sunlight at times, and artificial light, creating a myriad of glittering stars, reminiscent of the night sky.

The chandelier has, since medieval times, been a place of gathering, a sign of opulence and sophistication. By using a tree trunk the artist means to bring the outside in to the airport, while paying homage to the native oaks, which sustained the Nisenan (Suthern Maidu) and Plains Miwok Indians with their acorns. The title of the work, Acorn Steam, is an anagram of Sacramento. It also evokes a chapter in the artist’s personal history, when for some years in the 1980's he created the body of work titled Building Steam.


See a stop action video from YouTube showing the complete fabrication and installation of Acorn Steam.

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

The photo on the left shows the assembly of the sculpture’s steel framework and the photo on the right shows fabricator Jonquil LeMaster with the steel armature as it is being overlaid with latex.

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

The photo on the left shows fabricator Jonquil LeMaster applying texture to the sculpture and the photo on the right shows the texture process completed for one portion of the sculpture.

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

Fabricator Jonquil LeMaster puts finishing touches on the sculpture before it shipped to the Sacramento International Airport for installation.

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

The installation team guides the sculpture pieces to the final location in the airport. Work is done on the sculpture in a lowered position before it is raised and secured into place.

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork in progress

On site installation involves assembling the branches, patching connection points, and attaching more than 5,000 Austrian crystals.


Lipski artwork in progress  Lipski artwork completed

The above photo on the left shows the completed sculpture with early morning sunlight reflecting off the crystals on the right side of the sculpture. The photo on the right is taken from just below the sculpture.


Donald Lipski has an on-going history of large-scale, sculptural installations. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded the National Endowment of the Arts for both Sculpture and Conceptual Art. Additionally, he was granted fellowships with The New York Foundation on the Arts and the Guggenheim. On top of numerous already-installed public pieces, Lipski is currently working on public commissions for The San Diego Public Library; Houston Waterworks Museum; and the Regional Bus Transit System of Reno, Nevada, among others. His work is included in the collections of The Chicago Art Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and many other institutions. He holds a BA from The University of Wisconsin, Madison and an MFA from The Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan.


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