Week 8 (Columbus Public Art: part 1)


Art, Architecture and Design

This article spotlights a particular building or some other aspect of Columbus design. I welcome your comments, corrections and additions. Please share your experience and perceptions of these uniquely Columbus projects.

Public Art in Columbus (part 1)

Columbus is a fairly small town of approximately 44,000 people. In addition to an unexpected amount of quality architecture and it’s accompanying landscaping we have a truly amazing amount of public art and sculpture. There is simply no other town the size of Columbus with such an rich urban landscape. We are going to explore the public art of Columbus. This is the first of at least three parts.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Yellow Neon Chandelier
  • Artist: Dale Chihuly
  • Location: inside the Columbus Area Visitors Center – 506 5th Street
  • Installation date: 1995

Dale Chihuly is an internationally known glass artist from Seattle. He lost his sight in one eye when glass came through the car window during a traffic accident in 1976. As a result he rarely blows glass himself but acts as a conductor of his extremely collaborative team.

This piece features 900 pieces of hand blown glass in 4 shades of yellow. Nine feet tall and six feet wide at its widest point. 50 feet of neon tubing. Weighs 1200 ponds. Part of the Indiana Glass Trail. The sculpture was cleaned only once in 2005 by a firm referred by the Chihuly studio.

The “Yellow Neon Chandelier” and the accompanying “Persians” were a gift from Mr & Mrs J. Irwin Miller. The bay window in the addition to the Visitors Center was built especially to house the sculpture.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Persians
  • Artist: Dale Chihuly
  • Location: inside Columbus Area Visitor Center – 506th 5th Street
  • Installation date: 1995

Dale Chihuly is an internationally known glass artist from Seattle. He lost his sight in one eye when glass came through the car window during a traffic accident in 1976. As a result he rarely blows glass himself but acts as a conductor of his extremely collaborative team.

The “Yellow Neon Chandelier” and the accompanying “Persians” were a gift from Mr & Mrs J. Irwin Miller.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: The Industrial Quilt
  • Artist: Brian (River) Bailey and a collaboration of artists from Columbus and our sister cites in Miyoshi, Japan and Lohme, Germany.
  • Previous location: inside Columbus Area Visitors Center – 506th 5th Street
  • Installation date: 2001
  • The Industrial Quilt has sadly left Columbus 🙁 Brian (River Bailey) has this in storage and has expressed a desire to find another place in Columbus to display it. Any ideas???

36 square textured steel industrial panels (“diamond plate”) were provided to different artists to paint or decorate as desired.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: The Dancing C’s
  • Artist: Paul Rand
  • Location: outside Columbus Area Visitors Center – 506th 5th Street
  • Installation date: 1974

The “Dancing C’s” were used in various ways and signage as an identifying logo for Columbus. Partially incorporated into the current “Unexpected.Unforgettable” brand.

Paul Rand was an internationally known graphic artist who designed logos for Cummins, Tipton Lakes, UPS, Westinghouse and many others.

(photos by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Columbus Bicycle Racks
  • Location: various places around Columbus
  • Installation date: 2010?

Sculptural yet functional, placing a signature identifier of Columbus in all parts of town. These are based on the Paul Rand “Dancing C’s” logo and come in 4 official Columbus colors (Red, Blue, Yellow and Green). They can be purchased from the city and placed at your place of business or even your home. Part of the proceeds help support the People Trails network. I believe these came about from a suggestion by Laura Garrett.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Iris
  • Artist: Scott Westphal
  • Previous location: outside Columbus Area Visitors Center – 506 5th Street
  • Installation date: 2008
  • Iris has sadly left Columbus 🙁

Scott Westphal is an Indianapolis artist whose works are hybrids of abstractions, minimalism and figuration. “Iris” is made of lightweight aluminum but meant to resemble steel I-beams that he feels are an international symbol of strength.

Was part of the Columbus Sculptural Invitational.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Large Arch
  • Artist: Henry Moore
  • Location: Library Plaza – 536 5th Street
  • Installation date: 1971

I.M. Pei suggested a sculpture for the library plaza that would act as a focal point and as a “conductor” leading the varying forms of Modernist and Victorian architecture surrounding it. He wanted a sculpture that the public could interact with and touch. Pei suggested that a Henry Moore sculpture be commissioned.

“Large Arch” is 20 feet high, 12 feet wide and weighs 5-½ tons. Sandcast in bronze in 50 sections (¼ ‘ to ½’ inch thick) in West Germany. It was created with a natural greenish patina has changed very little over time.

He was inspired by nature and was fascinated with Stonehenge as a young man. He felt that this sculpture reflected the monumental size, the primitive simplicity and the powerful tension evident in the monolithic sculptures of the past. He wanted to create this sculpture so that it could be walked through and around in an interactive fashion.

A gift to Columbus from Mr and Mrs J. Irwin Miller.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Sermon on the Mount
  • Artist: Loja and Eliel Saarinen
  • Location: First Christian Church – 531 5th Street
  • Installation date: 1942

Designed by Eliel and Loja Saarinen and woven by Loja Saarinen and a group of weavers at the Cranbrook Academy. It was once the largest hand-woven tapestry in the United States.

(photos by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: KTA50
  • Location: outside of Cummins Office Building – 500 Jackson Street
  • Installation date: 1983

This is a sculptural representation of what was Cummins largest engine at the time.

(photos by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Exploded Engine
  • Artist: Rudolph de Harak
  • Location: Cummins Corporate HQ – 500 Jackson Street
  • Installation date: 1984

This is the centerpiece of the museum at Cummins corporate HQ. Nearly every piece of a Cummins Diesel engine is suspended in midair on cables reaching 22 feet from floor to ceiling.

(photos by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Jacob’s Ladder
  • Artist: Bernie Carreno
  • Location: on the lawn at Hotel Indigo – 400 Brown Street
  • Installation date: 2010

Bernie Carreno is an Indianapolis artist and head of the sculpture department at the Indianapolis Art Center. He works primarily in metal and is known for large-scale colorful public art sculptures.

He studied art at the Pratt Institute and at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. His works are considered minimalist and abstract with a constructivist influence.

This is part of the Columbus Sculptural Invitational (it may be purchased from the artist).

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: EOS
  • Artist: Dessa Kirk
  • Location: 5th Street median between Brown and Lindsey
  • Installation date: 2006

Eos is the Greek personification of the dawn.

Dessa Kirk is a Chicago artist who was raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She learned welding at an early age and left school at the age of 14 to apprentice with artists. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and was accepted based on the strength of her portfolio.

Dessa was the curator for the first Columbus Sculptural Invitational in 2006. The Columbus Arts Council had originally asked Dessa Kirk about the loan of one her sculptures and she volunteered to put together an assembly of works from other artists as well. It resulted in a large number of temporary installations in 2006. All were loaned from the artists who were seeking exposure for their work. Transportation and installation were paid for through private donations. Many were controversial due to their abstract nature but were certainly noticed and discussed.

Eos was a favorite throughout the community and was purchased from the sculptor after a fundraising campaign led by Blair and Ryan Lauer.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Skopos
  • Artist: Ric Bauer
  • Location: Mill Race Park (along the People Trail to the left of the Observation Tower).
  • Installation date: 1979

“Skopos” (roughly translated from Greek as “The Watcher” or guardian) is an imposing 15 foot tall, one ton steel sculpture with sleek curving lines. It was named in a local naming contest.

It floated away in the 2008 flood (when it was moved to it’s present site they didn’t secure it to the base since it was so heavy). It was found downstream weeks later. Rick Bauer came back to Columbus to oversee the cleaning and re-installation.

(photos by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Dreaming of a Greener Columbus – Jackson Place Mural
  • Artists: Columbus Community
  • Location: Jackson Place (11th and Jackson)
  • Installation date: 2009

Using the theme “Dreaming of a Greener Columbus”, community groups, families and individuals were invited to contribute their artwork onto 4 by 4 foot panels. The panels, paint and brushes were provided by builder Michael Greven. They were then mounted onto the buildings 40 by 50 foot south wall. Artist Cathe Burris organized the project. 83 completed panels were installed on the building, some of the artwork spanned multiple panels. Prizes were awarded for various categories but all panels were installed.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Generations
  • Artist: Betty Boyle
  • Location: Columbus Post Office
  • Installation date: 2002

In the tradition of the old W.P.A. Post Office murals, local artist Betty Boyle was commissioned to create a work honoring the tradition of architecture in Columbus over many generations. “Generations” is a 25 foot mural in 5 panels showing the progression of local architecture from the 1901 Post Office to the present.

Betty Boyle was chosen in a community competition. Grants from the Cummins Foundations, Custer foundation, the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County and private and company donations provided the funding.


Columbus Area Visitors Center

City of Columbus: official City of Columbus website

Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives

Columbus Indiana Architecture Digital Archives: A small portion of the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives available online from the IUPUI digital library

3D Models of Columbus Architecture Executed in Google SketchUp:

The Republic Newspaper – Columbus, Indiana newspaper

Bartholomew County Public Library

Historic Columbus Website – David Sechrest’s tribute to Columbus History

Historic Columbus Message Board – a companion interactive forum to the David Sechrest historical website

Bartholomew County Historical Society

Columbus Area Arts Council

Click HERE for a Calendar of Upcoming Events in the Columbus Area.

Click HERE for information about Tours of Columbus Architecture and Design including the Miller House.

Ricky Berkey

Email me: rickyberkey@gmail.com

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