Rain Man is a cleverly whimsical fountain created from the silhouette of an umbrella-holding businessman walking in a never-ending rain storm. 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 in the surrounding pool. This charming figure, created 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 rollerblades. When you embark on something like this, you’re not sure what people are going to say.” The neighborhood had missedRain Man and wanted him back.
Dimensions: 8′ x 6′ x 6′
Year Completed: 1996
Owner: Commissioned by University City Arts and Letters, Funded by the Gateway foundation and community support