Arts in Transit
Chesterfield Arts
St. Louis
Clayton
Grand Center
Lacledes
Laumeier
SLU
Southwestern
U. City
 

Rain Man

Rain Man

Artist: Gregory Cullen, American, b. 1969
Title: Rain Man, 1996
Media: bronze
Dimensions: 9' h., 6' w.
Owner: University City Arts and Letters

About the Work
Holding an umbrella, with water gently dripping off, is a man walking. Wearing a hat and a long coat, he carries what seems to be a briefcase. Upon closer inspection, his sloped shoulders and wide girth suggest he is an older man. Light flashes across the droplets rhythmically hitting the water of the surrounding pool. This clever and charming silhouetted figure, entitled Rain Man, by artist Gregory Cullen, is located in Epstein Plaza in University City.

Rain Man didn’t begin as a bronze sculpture, but started as a temporary site-specific work constructed of plywood—the base and three-piece plywood form were placed over the spigot of the existing fountain. In this second version of the businessman walking in a never-ending rain, the artist re-created the idea using bronze. Cullen developed a system of internal struts to strengthen the flat form. Technical and safety issues required for this new rendition were considerable.

Created when Cullen was a graduate student at Washington University, the piece became so popular during the seven months it was on display, that after it had been removed, calls came in to the Arts and Letters Commission asking where it was. As a result, The Friends of Rain Man was formed, whose goal it was to commission a permanent version. After two years they had raised the funds. “That’s a busy intersection for cars but gets a lot of pedestrian traffic as well,” Cullen said. “I wanted to do something for the pedestrians—the people on foot, on bikes and on Rollarblades. When you embark on something like this, you’re not sure what people are going to say.” The neighborhood had missed Rain Man and wanted him back. Cullen divides his time between creating figurative clay sculptures, designing children’s socks, and working both as a horticultural and botany technician.