Local Resident Donates Original Artwork to Prince William Campus

Posted: June 20, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryan Call

Vogel fountain
Harold Vogel, a local area sculptor, donated this sculptural fountain to the Prince William Campus.

Last year, Harold Vogel, a local area sculptor and retired businessman, asked family friend Carol Mattusch, Mathy Professor of Art History, to help him coordinate the donation of his wife’s artwork to George Mason’s Prince William Campus.

The administrators of the Prince William Campus had impressed him with their goal to establish a cultural center in Manassas, and he thought that a donation on behalf of his wife, Hilde Vogel-Michalik, who died of cancer in 1999, could very well serve that end.

Around the same time, Karen Pirhalla, the director of operations at the Prince William Campus, and Lawrence Czarda, the vice president of regional campuses, were trying to think of ways to “humanize” the young campus. So when Pirhalla heard from Mattusch about the pending donation, she wasted no time in seizing the opportunity.

After the transfer was completed, Pirhalla found herself the new executor of nearly 1,400 pieces of original artwork: a variety of oil paintings, graphite sketches, watercolor and ink compositions and encaustic wax paintings, plus two of Vogel’s own granite sculptures.

An intern from the Department of History and Art History helped Pirhalla document and photograph the pieces. Pirhalla also began to select certain works to frame; by the end of the spring semester she had displayed 47 pieces.

Each of Vogel’s sculptures combines the perfect curves of a granite sphere and the rough edges of a concave base in which Vogel installed a fountain that emits just enough water to allow the sphere to rotate freely. Pirhalla likes the interactive feature of the sculptures: give the sphere a strong shove and it could spin for several minutes. Vogel suggests, “Think of it as the roller ball of a computer mouse.”

The larger of the two sits on the walkway where Bull Run Hall and the Occoquan Building come together. Many students will use this intersection as they pass between the buildings. The smaller fountain will sit in the first floor lobby of Bull Run Hall.

Vogel-Michalik’s artwork depicts mostly natural themes, often through an abstract arrangement of colors and shapes. “Hilde used large bold forms and strong sweeping lines in her striking abstract paintings,” says Mattusch of the pieces. “The colors are brilliant, the shapes suggest vigorous movement and the surface textures are immediately visible to the viewer.”

These abstract characteristics delight Pirhalla because they offer spectators the chance to interpret the landscapes as they wish. Vogel-Michalik would have appreciated that thought; her sister, Friedel Michalik, quotes her as saying: “The perception of art is quite subjective.”

Vogel, who would like to carry on his wife’s love of giving, hopes that by donating the entire collection to the Prince William Campus he can celebrate her work, honor her life and preserve her spirit, which loved art for its beauty and purity.

“I always felt like after she passed away, somehow I’d like to keep her work together and sort of transfer her way of thinking and her way of doing things to the university, where they can maintain it, catalogue it and do something constructive with it, allow people to see how someone developed, rather than just have the paintings sitting somewhere in a basement,” he says.

Vogel painting
Hilde Vogel-Michalik painted this picture, which is now in the Prince William Campus collection.
Prince William Campus photos

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