Week 9 (Columbus Public Art: part 2)


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 2)

Columbus is a fairly small town of approximately 44,000 people. In addition to an unexpected amount of quality architecture and its 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 second of at least three parts.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Chaos I
  • Artist: Jean Tinguely
  • Location: inside the “new” Commons at 3rd and Washington
  • Installation date: 1974

Jean Tinguely is a Swiss artist known for his kinetic sculptures. Many were placed outside and intended to self-destruct. Working Tinguely sculptures are few and far between.

Cesar Pelli suggested Tinguely as the artist to construct a sculpture that was unique and meant to be a focal point and gathering place inside the original Commons in 1974. He wanted it to be a place where people would meet and greet one another, kind of an abstract clock in a new and unique town square.

Most materials were procured locally, much of it scrap materials found at Kroot’s former downtown salvage yard. Tinguely was here throughout the fabrication process working with local craftspeople inside the former Senior Citizens Center (then the future Senior Center). It was later disassembled and reconstructed inside the Commons.

It is 30 feet tall and weighs nearly 7 tons constructed of metal, industrial equipment, wood, and electrical equipment including 7 motors. Pelli likened it to a clock in an old fashioned town square. He wanted it to run at set intervals but Tinquely insisted that its movements be random.

Chaos was a gift to the community from Mr & Mrs J. Irwin Miller and Clementine Tangeman.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: 2 Arcs de 212.5°
  • Artist: Bernar Venet
  • Location: outside the “new” Commons at 3rd and Washington
  • Installation date: 1987

Bernar Venet is a French artist who has done a series of sculptures similar to this one but in different sizes and expressing different mathematical formulas. His work reflects his love of mathematics and exploring materials, form, balance and spatial perception. Our sculpture is a simple minimalist expression in red painted steel. Most people assume it is meant to be 2 C’s for Columbus and the Commons. It was temporarily relocated during the Commons destruction/reconstruction but now is proudly installed near the main entrance.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Bicentennial Fountain and Dancing Fish
  • Artist: Tom Stephens (fountain)
  • Artist: C.R. Schiefer (fish sculpture)
  • Location: Courthouse Square
  • Installation date: 1976

This was a Bicentennial project of the Mudlark Garden Club dedicated on July 3rd, 1976. Tom Stephens designed the fountain and C.R. Schiefer of Martinsville, Indiana designed the fish sculpture. Flowers and planting nearby were planted and maintained by the Mudlarks.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Ancestral Way
  • Artist: Bob Pulley
  • Location: to the right as you go head towards the 3rd Street Bridge
  • 2006

Bob Pulley’s 11 ceramic sculptures seem to guard and protect the roadside at the exit from the city towards the west. Pulley has been a sculptor for over thirty years and teaches art at Columbus North High School.

This was part of the initial Columbus Sculptural Invitational in 2006.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Front Door Project: Bridges
  • Artist: Jean Muller
  • Location: at the I65/SR46 intersection and at the SR46 entrance to the city from the west.
  • Installation date: 1999

These two very sculptural red steel bridges anchor the Front Door project which was a traffic improvement program as well as a beautification project. It was intended to provide a safer, more efficient entry into Columbus from the interstate area as well as extend the character of the distinctive Columbus architecture to that area.

The Gateway Arch bridge on the left above carrying Interstate 65 traffic over State Road 46 is a twin-ribbed arched overpass created by J. Muller International.

The Second Street bridge on the right above is at the west entrance to the city on State Road 46. It is a cable-stayed, quadripod design with its supports buried deep into the riverbed also designed by J. Muller.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Daquqi
  • Artist: Peter Lundberg
  • Location: Robert Garton Plaza (on the right as you enter into the city from the west off the 2nd Street bridge)
  • Fabrication date: 1988
  • Installation date: 2006

This is a 9 ton sculpture made from concrete and stainless steel. It takes it’s name from a Rumi (19th century poet) poem. According to the sculptor, it evokes the whirling dervishes of the Sufi religious sect.

Part of the Columbus Sculptural Invitational in 2006 (you may purchase it for $40K).

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Crack the Whip
  • Artist: Jo Saylors
  • Location: Firefighters/Police Memorial Plaza (to the left after you enter the city from the west off the 2nd Street bridge.
  • Installation date: 1998

Lifelike 4 foot tall bronze statue of children at play. It was originally across from the former Arvin Corporate HQ. It had been a gift in honor of Arvin employees by Mr and Mrs James K. Baker. After Arvin left the building, the Baker’s exercised their option to have it relocated to a spot more accessible to the public.

Jo Saylors is an artist from Oklahoma known for creating very life-like sculptures of children.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Birds of Fire
  • Artist: Ted Sitting Crow Garner
  • Former location: 2nd and Jackson (on the Republic lawn)
  • Fabrication date: 1979
  • Installation date: 2006
  • This sculpture is now sadly gone from Columbus 🙁

Garner is a Chicago artist who combines the power and aesthetics of his Native American heritage with modern materials, and techniques. This steel sculpture was inspired by a Sri Chinmoy poem.

This was part of the Columbus Sculptural Invitational in 2006.
Birds of Fire: My blog article about Birds of Fire

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans
  • Artist: Maryann Thompson & Charles Rose
  • Location: on the Courthouse lawn.
  • Installation date: 1997

The memorial is composed of 25 limestone pillars that are 40 feet high. Engraved on the inner columns are names of those who gave their lives in wars of the 20th Century and further in are excerpts of actual letters written to their loved ones. Inside the monument is a sacred space offering a intimate and meditative experience. The exterior of the columns are rough hewn limestone symbolic of protection while the inner surfaces are smooth. Some have likened the columns to soldiers standing in formation at parade rest (the columns are wider at the base than at the top).

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Summer Storm
  • Artist: Michael Helbing
  • Previous location: 2nd and Washington (on the Courthouse lawn)
  • Installation date: 2006
  • This is now sadly gone 🙁

Helbing is a Chicago artist who grew up in Shelbyville, Indiana and is a Vietnam Veteran. This is a stainless steel sculpture and was its first installation here. The storm motif is expressed through lightning bolts on the support columns with sheets of rain and a storm cloud at the top. Helbing has poured the raw emotions generated from his Vietnam experience into much of his artwork.

This was part of the Columbus Sculptural Invitational in 2006.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: “C”
  • Artist: Robert Indiana
  • Location: inside Columbus City Hall (west staircase)
  • Installation date: 1981

Robert Indiana (born Robert Clarke) once lived near Columbus in Elizabethtown. He is famous for his LOVE graphic and sculptures. This wall hanging is indicative of the imagery of his distinctive pop art work.

Columbus wanted to use this graphic as the official city seal but discovered they would have to pay a per use royalty to the artist.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Puddles and Frog Pond
  • Artist : Jo Saylors
  • Location: BCSC HQ – 15th and Central
  • Installation date: 1996

Realistic bronze sculptures of children at play. “Frog Pond” is the boy who is shown “gigging frogs in the pond (his gigging stick was broken off). “Puddles” is the girl shown skipping rocks. Located at the administration building of our local school system. Jo Saylors is an artist from Oklahoma known for creating very life-like sculptures of children.

Both of these sculptures had been damaged by vandals over the years and the girl statue (“Puddles”) was stolen a few years ago and has never been found. The other statue was taken inside recently and I’m told it was being repaired. Not sure if we will ever see either one of them again 🙁

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Memorial to Jolie Crider
  • Artist: Linda Peterson
  • Location: along the People Trail near the bridge across from the hospital entrance
  • Installation date: 2010

This limestone and marble sculpture by Columbus artist Linda Peterson is in memory of Jolie Crider, who passed away in 1998 at the age of 14. The girl is sculpted from limestone and holds a pink marble heart in her hands.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: Park Murals
  • Artist: designed by local youth
  • Location: In various city parks around Columbus

This is one of the Murals located in Columbus City Parks that were designed and painted by local troubled youth from the Youth Services Center in collaboration with local artists.

(photo by Ricky Berkey)

  • Title: The Skater
  • Artist: Columbus North High School students working with Dale Patterson and Malcolm Stalcup
  • Location: outside the Hamilton Center In Lincoln Park
  • Installation Date: 2000

This was a collaborative effort over an 6 year period between teachers and students at Columbus North High School. Art students worked on the design while welding students did the construction of the three piece Cor-Ten steel sculpture. Welding instructor Malcolm Stalcup sent his welding students to art classes while art students came to learn the basics of welding. Art instructor Dale Patterson worked with the Columbus Arts Council and the Parks Department to secure a prominent location for the 18 foot tall sculpture. Columbus North technology students poured the concrete bases and Milestone construction moved the sculpture from Columbus North to the park.


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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