Celebrating CCAD Art Sign’s 20th year

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If you’ve been to the Discovery District in downtown Columbus, chances are you’ve seen CCAD’s Art Sign on the horizon. This 10-story steel sculpture is painted red—Columbus College of Art & Design’s signature shade—and is located at the heart of CCAD’s campus. This summer and fall we're celebrating 20 years since this iconic landmark was installed. 

You can share your own Art Sign images and memories on social media by using #CCADartsign. Be sure to catch our fun, inflatable Art Sign replica on its tour around central Ohio. See where we're going and when.

A brief history of our Art Sign

Ric Petry, who would become our first Director of Graduate Studies and is now Professor Emeritus, got the idea for a large, neon red, block-letter ART sign in 1996, while serving as a visiting artist in Taiwan. He kept noticing a sign at a college on top of a hill in Taipei and envisioned an equally striking, placemaking landmark for CCAD. A few years later, he proposed the idea to CCAD’s president at the time, Dennison “Denny” W. Griffith, who himself envisioned the sculpture “as a beacon for the arts in Columbus and beyond.”

In 2001, CCAD received a significant gift from CCAD alumni Dale Beavers (CCAD, 1965) and Grant Beavers (Photography, 1996), both owners/officers of The Artglo Company, to fabricate and erect a major work of public art on campus. That work, the Art Sign, was installed on June 23, 2001 in a process that took about 10 hours. It was dedicated on October 5, 2001. In the 20 years since, the sculpture has become a mainstay, anchoring our campus and making an indelible mark on the downtown landscape. 

Click this link to read more about CCAD’s history.

5 Art Sign facts 

  1. Since its debut on June 23, 2001, there’s been a bit of a dispute on just what we call this iconic work. Is it the Art Sign or is it the Art Sculpture? Depends on who you ask. (But as an object, it’s considered a sculpture.) We call it the Art Sign. 
  2. The sculpture is 100 feet tall and 101 feet wide, with the “A” in “Art” stretching across Gay Street.
  3. That A is engineered to give approximately 18 inches in strong wind.
  4. The Art Sign weighs 62,100 pounds. That’s 31 tons, or as much as 60 grand pianos, or 31 1979 Volkswagen Beetles, or more than 4 Tyrannosaurus rex (4.4, to be exact).
  5. The sculpture was conceived of by CCAD’s Ric Petry and was designed by Doris Shlayn, Director of Design at The Artglo Company (a company founded and owned by two CCAD alumni).
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The newly erected Art Sign, summer 2001.
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20 tunes for 20 years

What song was at the top of the U.S. pop charts the week our Art Sign was erected? Find this and other No. 1s from the week of June 23, from 2001 to 2021, on this Spotify playlist created by our own CCAD President Melanie Corn.

Celebrating CCAD's impact

We've been shaping culture and commerce in Columbus and beyond for more than 140 years. Here's a look at the impact we've had during the past 20 years:

  1. Graduated 5,162 students
  2. Ranked as one of the top 15% of design programs in the U.S. (—College Factual)
  3. Partnered with 50+ organizations, from Airstream to the VA Central Ohio, for real-world creative learning opportunities
  4. Awarded more than $19M in scholarships to students
  5. Created lifelong learning opportunities, filling 49,249 seats in Continuing & Professional Studies classes

Snap a selfie

The Art Sign doesn't have any bad angles, but we've pointed out a couple of great ones with our new selfie spots on campus. Find them on at Gay Street next to CCAD's Joseph V. Canzani Center (60 Cleveland Ave.) as well as on Cleveland Avenue near the crosswalk. Post your photos and use #CCADartsign.

Want your own Art Sign swag?

Good news: Ampersand Emporium has just what you’re looking for. From T-shirts to pins, stickers to business card holders, you’ll find the perfect Art Sign gift (or a little something for yourself). It’s all designed by our CCAD Student Agency, and you won’t find these items anywhere else! Shop Ampersand Emporium now.

Share your Art Sign memories

Have a memory, photo, or other creative work you want to share? Fill out this form and we’ll consider sharing it on a future blog or social media.