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DOWNTOWN PUBLIC ART
USE WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE & THE MAP – the self-guided tour works best with the free, public art tour map available at The Visitors Center, 506 Fifth Street, Columbus, Indiana.
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Yellow Chandelier and Persians
Head up the stairwell inside the Visitors Center to view Dale Chihuly’s 900-piece Chandelier.
It is a rare Chihuly because it is lit from inside with neon tubing. At night, it glows dramatically and can be viewed from outside.
These pieces were installed shortly before Chihuly’s first major exhibition, Chihuly over Venice. Today, Chihuly’s glass creations can be found in major museums, businesses, and individual collections around the world.
The hand-spun glass plates are installed within the two-story bay window. Chihuly named them “Persians.”
Chihuly’s Yellow Neon Chandelier and Persians were a gift from J. Irwin and Xenia Miller in 1995.
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Columbus sculptor Martin Beach created this four-ton sculpture out of mesabi black granite which came from a Babbit, Minnesota quarry.
The sculpture is an obelisk form consisting of two stacked, black granite stones. The shape creates a modern, minimalist interpretation of a totem, an ancient symbol of community, gathering, and family.
The library’s stone steps came from the same quarry as these granite stones.
Beach also has several smaller sculptures on display at the Columbus Learning Center, alongside other art pieces and pocket galleries.
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I.M. Pei, architect of the public library, suggested a Henry Moore sculpture for the library plaza. Pei thought that a sculpture on the plaza should serve as focal point as well as a counter-balance to the two modernist structures that surround it.
The site and size of the work encourages people to walk around and through it, as Moore intended, “As a young sculptor, I saw Stonehenge and ever since I’ve wanted to do work that could be walked through and around.”
Large Arch is the largest Henry Moore sculpture in America.
The sculpture was a gift to the community from J. Irwin and Xenia Miller – Xenia visited Moore in England during the selection process.
Tour Guide Audio
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Visitors Center Sign
Paul Rand, one of America’s most celebrated graphic artists, is known for his iconic logos for ABC, Westinghouse, IBM and UPS.
For the Columbus Area Visitors Center, he created the colorful “dancing Cs,” which he used in designing letterhead, visitors maps, architectural tour markers, and this sign.
Rand also designed the first editions of the Look At Architecture book, the ninth edition of which is available in the gift shop
In 1961, Rand was introduced to Cummins president Irwin Miller – Cummins was one of the first U.S. corporations to recognize the value of corporate branding. Paul Rand eventually worked with Cummins for over thirty years, creating annual reports, packaging, and graphic identification.
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Dessa Kirk’s Eos sculpture was originally a temporary installation for the 2006 Sculpture Invitational, but the piece was so popular with the community that a fund drive raised the money to ensure she had a permanent home here.
Kirk created the sculpture in Columbus, she said:
“Columbus has all these amazing buildings by amazing architects…The one great sculpture, the Henry Moore, I want to be in the same city as Henry Moore, why not? It’s a beautiful thing – beautiful city in a beautiful setting. You want to see great architecture? Go (to Columbus). There’s New York City, but Columbus is where you want to go. And there’s great sculpture – my all-time favorite sculptor, Tinguely. I want to be a part of that, I want to be there hanging out with those guys…” (adapted from WTTW Arts Online)
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Exhibit Columbus commissioned designer Rick Valicenti to design the graphic identity for the annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community. This sculpture repurposes the typographic design treatment that came out of that process.
From 3st.com :
Valicenti’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), resides in the permanent collections of the Yale and Columbia University libraries, Denver Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and has been published in The New York Times.
The White House honored Valicenti in 2011 with the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, National Design Award for Communication Design. In 2006, he received the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Medal, the highest honor of the graphic design profession.
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Friendship Way (Columbus Walkway Project), features a neon installation by San Francisco artist Cork Marcheschi.
The thirteen-piece neon sculpture should be viewed at night to get the full effect of the installation.
“I never knew I would end up in the world of public art. It was an accident and a good one. I really don’t think of my public work as art. It is a cross between creative problem solving, designing, and engineering. If you are lucky enough to get a project that actually wants art – BONUS!” – from Cork Marcheschi, Portrait of Artist as Outlaw.
The people of Miyoshi, Japan, the sister city to Columbus, purchased bricks with their names engraved on the path.
The Friendship Way project design and landscaping was by William A. Johnson.
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Ruth Aizuss Migdal
Created by Chicago artist Ruth Aizuss Migdal. The abstract, painted steel sculpture was installed as part of the Columbus Sculpture Biennial in 2014. A fundraising campaign by community members raised the money to make it a part of the Columbus permanent art collection in 2016.
“The Public Sculpture with which I am now deeply involved continues to explore the female torso in a larger-than-life scale. Fabricated in steel, they are celebrations expressed in dance and painted a vivid red.” – Migdal
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Chaos I is a seven-ton, kinetic (moving) sculpture by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely.
The 30-foot high piece is the largest work by Tinguely in the United States. (Within three short city blocks, visitors can visit the largest Tinguely sculpture and the largest Henry Moore sculptures in the United States!)
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.
“Playfulness is one of the key words for his whole work, so kids were very important to him – when kids loved his work, he thought he was successful.” – Roland Wetzel, the director of the Jean Tinguely Museum in Basel, Switzerland
Tinguely (pronounced tong-a-LEE), a colorful character sporting a bushy moustache, took up residence in Columbus’s former city powerhouse near Mill Race Park for nearly two years in 1973 and 1974. 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.
Driven by twelve motors, 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 quite the 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 that a sculpture by Tinguely would be the perfect centerpiece to this downtown facility. Pelli said, “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.
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2 Arcs de 212.5
Bernar Venet’s 2 Arcs de 212.5° – also known as the “Red C” – is typical of French artist Venet’s minimalist work in curved, mathematically precise metal. Seemingly precariously balanced, this work, like his others, reflects the artist’s love of mathematics and his process of adapting material, form, balance, and spatial perception.
Venet’s works are displayed in The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and many others.
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Columbus sculptor Robert Pulley’s installation of 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.
“I grew up in the American Midwest, where frequent solitary walks in the woods and along the creeks and rivers of rural Indiana etched strong impressions into my memory of the varied forms, colors, and textures around me. Evidence of the effects of time were everywhere in the rock strata, glacial till, and aboriginal artifacts. I found a sense of wonder that embraced mysteries of nature, of change, and of time.” – Bob Pulley
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CRACK THE WHIP
A bronze sculpture by Jo Saylors of 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 James and Bev Baker as a gift to honor the employees of Arvin, the piece was originally placed at the former Arvin Corporate headquarters on Central Avenue. After Arvin left Columbus, the Bakers had the piece relocated where the public could enjoy it, by gifting it to The Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
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This nine-ton sculpture by Peter Lundberg takes its name from a Rumi poem.
It is made of concrete and stainless steel which 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.”
From the poem by the 13th Century Persian poet, Rumi :
Daquqi said, One day I was going along
looking to see in people the shining of the Friend.
I came to the shore at twilight and saw
seven candles. I hurried along the beach
toward them. I was amazed. My amazement was amazed.
Waves of bewilderment broke over my head.
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Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans
Thompson and Rose
The memorial includes wenty five limestone pillars, each 40-feet high, in a five-by-five grid. The names of those who gave their lives are engraved on the columns, along with excerpts from selected correspondence. Though large in scale, the piece offers a meditative and intimate experience while reading 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 the Charles Rose website:
“…the Veterans Memorial is 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.”
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THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Eliel and Loja Saarinen
First Christian Church
(Not open to public during pandemic)
The Sermon on the Mount tapestry was designed by Eliel and Loja Saarinen, woven by Loja Saarinen and a group of weavers at the Cranbrook Academy, and installed in 1942.
The tapestry depicts 13 colorfully-robed people standing among vines and branches with birds, sheep, and other animals. They gaze up towards Jesus, who has many arcs and halos radiating from him. It hangs in the sanctuary to the proper left of the large wooden cross.
When it was installed, it was the largest hand-woven tapestry in the United States.
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MORE PUBLIC ART
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DOWNTOWN COLOR PALETTE
“The Downtown Development Agency … met with Girard on May 5, 1961, and one (agency member) subsequently wrote: Mr. Girard pointed out that in our effort to be ‘different’ we, as merchants, are growing toward a rather horrible degree of ‘uniformity.’ This is true even though the signs are of different shape, sizes, color, light intensity, etc. We have pretty much arrived at a ‘jungle’ wherein one sees everything at the same time he is seeing a blur of nothing. His solution: a design scheme for the whole town, block by commercial block … Girard practiced distributed design, touching many people’s lives in unexpected ways, and never letting his ego come first.”
“Girard pulled a lot of weight in turning Columbus into a modern architecture mecca, designing homes, offices, and a Main Street for its chief architectural patron J. Irwin Miller. Girard also worked alongside George Nelson and Charles Eames at Herman Miller (no relation to the Indiana Millers).”
“Columbus is one of few places outside Santa Fe to see the real thing. Columbus, as you may know, is no ordinary American Midwestern town.”
- all quotes from Organizing the world – how multi-hyphenate designer Alexander Girard made America modern – by Alexandra Lange, July 2017, Curbed magazine
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Rudolph de Harak
Cummins Corporate Office Building
(Not open to public during pandemic)
“For the centerpiece of the Cummins Engine Museum in Columbus, Mr. de Harak conceived a display he called an ‘exploding’ diesel engine; it hangs by wires in midair, revealing its every part, including all the tiny nuts and bolts. It was one of his many approaches to extracting useful, fascinating information from the most minute details.” – The New York Times obituary for de Harak
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CITY OF COLUMBUS MURAL
Columbus City Hall
(Not open to public during pandemic)
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).
Robert Indiana lived in Columbus for a period with his mother and stepfather on McKinely Avenue and returned to aid his dying mother in 1949. The house was torn down to make way for the Cummins Tech Center.
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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.