COLUMBUS PUBLIC ART collection, 1
Explore a remarkable collection of public art for a city of 50,000 – you will find works by internationally-known artists, up-and-coming artists, and local artists.
2 Arcs de 212.5 (The Red C), Bernar Venet
The Commons, 300 Washington Street, Columbus
Bernar Venet is a a French conceptual artist known for his curved and mathematically precise metal sculptures.
Venet’s 2 Arcs de 212.5° – also known as the “Red C” – is typical of Venet’s minimalist work in steel. Seemingly precariously balanced, this work reflects the artist’s love of mathematics and adapting material, form, balance, and spatial perception.
2 Arcs was originally housed near the J.I. and Xenia Miller’s swimming pool before they donated it to the community.
In 2005, Venet was awarded a Chevalier de le Legion d’honorre, the highest French decoration and among of the most famous in the world.
Ancestral Way, Robert Pulley
Robert Pulley’s eleven organic forms appear to march in procession along the hillside as visitors exit the city. The hand-built stoneware fired ceramic sculptures combine references to the human figure with organic and geologic forms
Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, Thompson and Rose
Twenty five limestone pillars, each 40-feet high, in a five-by-five grid, comprise the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans. Engraved on the columns are the names of those who gave their lives, along with excerpts from selected correspondence. Though large, the piece offers a meditative and intimate experience from the letters to and from the soldiers. The memorial was designed by Thompson and Rose Architects and received the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture Design Award in 1996.
From Charles Rose website:
Situated on Bartholomew County Courthouse Square near entrance to the city; 25 columns of rock-cut Indiana limestone honor the county’s veterans of 20th century wars. The winner of a national design competition, the Veterans Memorial is a grid of limestone pillars: a monolith of rough and naturally textured stone when viewed from afar and—from its interior meditative spaces—a forest of soaring columns separated by narrow passageways. Veterans’ names, letters and diary entries were etched on the smooth surfaces. At night, lights embedded in the base create a dramatic play of light and shadow and illuminate the memorial’s interior.
Materials: Indiana limestone; black granite.
Celebration, Gary Price
This whimsical piece features children in flight. Gary Price created the work which is on display inside the lobby of Foundation for Youth. The artist writes, “Imagine a world without limits, without boundaries, without prejudice and blame. Imagine an existence full of self-confidence, self-esteem and not only tolerance, but love for others regardless of color, socio-economic, or any other standing. To me that is what the future holds. That is what children represent and that is the type of world I would like to help others imagine so it can come to pass.”
Chaos I, Jean Tinguely
Chaos I is a seven-ton, kinetic sculpture by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (1925-1991). The 30-foot high piece is the largest work by Tinguely in the United States. Clair Beltz, archivist at the Museum Tinguely in Basil, Switzerland said, “The artist’s philosophy was that everything has to be in motion, like life; if not, it’s not ‘real.’”
It seems fitting that the centerpiece of Columbus, Indiana, a city known for both its great architectural designs and its world-class manufacturing operations, would be a sculpture that successfully marries art and engineering. Tinguely, a colorful character sporting a bushy moustache, took up residence in Columbus’s former city powerhouse near Mill Race Park for nearly two years from 1973 to 1974. Locals have wonderful memories of the artist-in-residence. Tinguely became a regular at the local “watering holes” during that time. He was said to have been delighted by the quality of the scrap he found in local junkyards about town because they provided the raw material for his work.
Chaos I cycles through a series of motions to simulate a day in a life, beginning slowly at first, adding movements and then winding down again. At the peak of its chaotic movements, steel balls roll and crash through a caged track, making a ruckus. So special is Chaos to the community, for the three years that the new Commons was being constructed, it was safely protected in a climate-controlled box while The Commons was razed and rebuilt all around it.
The architect of the original Commons, Cesar Pelli, first suggested to J. Irwin Miller, CEO of Cummins Engine Co., that a sculpture by Tinguely would be the perfect centerpiece to this downtown facility. The structure filled three city blocks and was designed to be a public gathering space, playground, and performance area within an urban shopping mall. Pelli stated, “We would like a great magnet, a focal point such as the old town clock…a place for people to meet and greet one another.” The work was commissioned by J. Irwin and Xenia Irwin Miller and Mrs. Robert Tangeman in late 1971.
City of Columbus wall hanging, Robert Indiana
Robert Indiana’s C painting is indicative of his pop art pieces. It uses distinctive imagery in what he called “sculptural poems.” The bold, simple representation melds the trendy with the philosophical, and centers around one basic focal point, the C in the center. Bold rays of color radiate from the center, and the piece is anchored by a composite of the Columbus skyline. The piece includes the date the city was founded (1821) and the date Robert Indiana finished the work (1981).
The story reprinted below was written by Harry McCawley, for The Republic newspaper, published Jan. 20, 2014:
Robert Indiana will be coming home next month. On Feb. 16 the famed artist will open an 11-week exhibit of his works (“The Essential Robert Indiana”) at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
It will be a homecoming for the man who chose the state for his adoptive last name. He had good cause. Before he reached adulthood he had lived in 21 Hoosier cities and towns.
Columbus was his last Indiana home.
When you live at 21 different addresses in the space of 21 years, some connections can be considered tenuous at best.
The Columbus tie was established in 1946 when his mother, the former Carmen Waters, who was born in Sandcreek Township in Bartholomew County, moved to a house on McKinley Avenue with her husband, Foster Dickey, Indiana’s stepfather. At the time, Robert Indiana was Robert Clark, his birth name.
While the house on McKinley Avenue was his official address, it’s doubtful that he spent much time in it. When the family moved from Indianapolis to Columbus, he was just completing his senior year at Arsenal Technical High School. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was still on active duty when his mother died in 1949.
But the McKinley Avenue house did make an impression on the artist. He made several references to it and Columbus in remarks during return visits to this city, one in 1975 when his works were exhibited in the Columbus Gallery of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which at that time was located on the second floor of the Columbus Area Visitors Center.
His most detailed comments about Columbus came about because of a really direct connection to the city. In 1981 he presided over the unveiling of one of his trademark works, a diamond-shaped “C” displayed at the top of the staircase leading to the upper floor of City Hall.
Large letters are at the center of most Indiana works. His fame as an artist had been cemented by the iconic “LOVE” sculpture, which has been the trademark of the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1970.
His Columbus “C” was derived from several memories, many of them personal and relating to his last Indiana home.
He told the audience at the unveiling on that day in 1981 that one of the “C” links was obviously Columbus, but then he added several other connections. One was to his given name of Clark. Another to his mother’s name, Carmen. He also suggested the art was influenced by the driving force in the city’s economy, Cummins Engine Co. He evoked the love he felt for his mother by alluding to another “C,” the Crump Theatre, where he took his mother for a movie shortly before her death.
He even injected a bit of humor into his “C” connections, suggesting that the letter could symbolize the courage the city leaders exhibited in selecting him to do the work.
Columbus’ “C” has obviously not achieved the fame of the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s sculpture, but that might have to do with the failure to come to a licensing agreement. Originally city officials envisioned the letter as an official city seal, but that would have required separate licensing fees each time the image was used.
Sadly, the City Hall “C” and memories are the only surviving links that tie the city to the artist.
After the family moved from Indianapolis to Columbus in 1946, Dickey took a job at a bakery owned by Sap Essex of Sap’s Donuts fame.
The family’s living conditions were not ideal. The home on McKinley Avenue was unheated and didn’t have running water. Nevertheless, Foster and Carmen opened a bakery of their own in the house.
The McKinley Avenue house was demolished in the 1960s when Cummins began construction of its Tech Center. The value of the house would have been modest, but one of Indiana’s connections to the city that is linked to the house would be worth millions today.
It was in that house that he painted his first sign. Unfortunately, the sign was lost several years ago.
- Learn even more about the Robert Indiana painting
Crack the Whip, Jo Saylors
A 4-foot tall bronze by Jo Saylors of four children playing crack the whip, a children’s game dating to the late 1800s. The piece is meticulous in detail, right down to the wrinkles in the clothes and the off-balanced positions of the children. Commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. James K. Baker as a gift to honor Arvin employees, the piece was originally placed at the former Arvin Corporate headquarters on Central Avenue. After Arvin left Columbus, the Baker’s exercised their option to have the piece relocated to a spot more accessible to the public. The piece was gifted to Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County and moved to its current location.
Daquqi, Peter Lundberg
This nine-ton sculpture by Peter Lundberg takes its name from a Rumi poem. The piece is made of concrete and stainless steel, and the stainless steel has been ground with circular patterns by the artist. Lundberg is known for his monumental concrete and steel sculptures and for his leadership in bringing sculpture to the public. His initiative and energy have resulted in the establishment of several new sculpture parks. “I think of my sculptures as a view into my unconscious mind, a landscape of very primitive things, rudimentary elements of life, nature, science, spirituality and passion. For both the maker and viewer, sculpture, like music, carries a beat, a pulsing motion directed to and from the soul that when reveled in takes us into dreamlike states of mind.”