Jul 18, 2012 • By

Table top

What’s harder than making a giant, inverted cone out of concrete?

Doing it in front of an audience.

Back in the summer of 1987, General Mills employees watched as Public Table was created on the grounds of the company’s headquarters in Minneapolis.

Corporate Art Curator Don McNeil oversaw the outdoor art collection from the very start. All this week on our blog, he’s showing us some of the collection’s highlights.

Don first admired artist Scott Burton’s Public Table in an exhibition. It was a temporary piece made out of plywood. Burton, however, had always wanted to make the sculpture out of cast concrete.

This was his chance.

Unlike most of the other pieces in the collection, Public Table was made entirely on site. The project was not only very visible, but also highly painstaking.

It took a plaster professional months just to make the mold.

“When he got to the vital part of surfacing this mold, he would take a marble and shoot this marble from the top and watch it as it spun down to the bottom. That’s how he could tell if it was uneven or not,” Don recalls.

Once the mold was perfected, a specially formulated concrete was poured. Then the whole thing was covered and left to cure for several weeks.

When it came time to remove the mold, employees stopped what they were doing.

“Everybody was watching out the windows as this mold was split apart and removed. We weren’t quite sure what we were going to find, but lo and behold, this appeared, and it’s quite perfect almost.”

Don provides more detail about the table in this video interview.

Burton very much wanted the piece to be used, and it has been. Don says some meetings have been held around the table.

But, attendees have to bring their own chairs.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth post in a series about the outdoor art at our headquarters in Minnesota. The first post was “What is that statue?” The second was “Did something fall off a UFO?” The third was “A welcoming wall of stone.” And, the fifth was “A big bowl of Cheerios.”