Arts, Sciences and Literature
Arts, Sciences and Literature originally graced the roofline of an earlier Indianapolis Public Library facility, which was built in 1893 on the southwest corner of Ohio and Meridian Sts. The building also housed the central administrative offices of Indianapolis Public Schools. The current Central Library was built in 1917; however, the sculpture remained in place until 1967, when Indianapolis Public Schools moved to a new administration building. Although the building was soon demolished and a hotel constructed in its place, the sculpture was rescued and relocated to the grounds of Crown Hill Cemetery. In 1981 the artwork, damaged from the elements and with missing parts, was brought back to the grounds of the Central Library. It remained there until 2002, when it was removed for a complete restoration before being placed over the north doors of the library’s renovated and expanded facility in June-July, 2007.
The sculpture is a heroic-scale bronze group of three figures. On the proper right is a seated female figure representing Literature. On her lap she holds a book or tablet, and at her feet is a bust of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She faces away from the grouping. Her proper right arm is extended. In the center is a standing male figure, representing Enlightenment, holding aloft a torch in his proper right hand. The torch is topped with a six-pointed star. In his proper left hand he holds a palm leaf, representing Achievement. Beside him is an owl and a globe, attributes of science. On the proper left is a seated female figure, representing the Arts. With her proper left hand she holds a drawing board braced against her proper left knee. Her proper right hand is poised near her shoulder and she is gazing at the board. At her side is a bust of the Renaissance artist Michelangelo. A laurel wreath lies in the foreground between the center and proper left figures. An eagle perches with outspread wings behind the figures.
Richard Bock (1865-1949) was a Chicago-based artist of the late 19th and early 20th century, best known for creating sculptures and architectural ornaments in association with architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Bock was born in Germany but moved to Chicago as a youth. He studied art at the Berlin Academy and at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and established his studio in Chicago in 1891. Bock received the commission for Arts, Sciences and Letters on the basis of his entry into a competition for the sculpture, which he won. For more information about Bock and his work, visit the website of the Richard W. Bock Sculpture Museum in Greenville, Illinois: https://www.greenville.edu/about/visit/bock_museum.html
Elmira Annis Irvington Civic Plaza
In 2018, the Elmira Annis Irvington Civic Plaza was unveiled on the north and east side of the Irvington Public Library. The Civic Plaza is a common space and focal point for both the Irvington Branch and community activities. The design of the Civic Plaza focuses on the guiding principles of literacy, education, honoring the natural environment, design using sustainable materials, and a recognition of the late Mrs. Elmira Annis, an avid reader.
Pleasant Run Creek Mosaic by April Knauber and McKayla Bensheimer – This mosaic is a collaborative piece. Their work gives the plaza a spark of color with a nod to the history of Irvington. The artists recreated sections of Pleasant Run Creek, which flows through Irvington. Visitors can walk on each of the paths, which cut in and out of the plaza, as if they’re mapping Pleasant Run.
Interchange by Elizabeth Jorgensen is inspired by the history of Irvington and a movement in the 1900’s that exhibited art in Irvington. The 12-foot tall white metal sculpture sits atop a cement platform and is stamped with delicate, dark lines representing a map of Irvington. The top portion features uplifted, 3D shapes also inspired by the layouts of Irvington streets. The lower three prominent arches, and the top two reaching arches are inspired by N. Audubon Road and its connection with Lowell Avenue. At a height of 10 ft. there are three square and oblong metal shapes representing Irvington’s prominent streets: E. University Avenue, N. Campbell Avenue. and E. St. Joseph.
Pleasant Stream by Jared Cru Smith – For this artwork, the artist chose to focus on a geographical feature prominent in the Irvington area: Pleasant Run Creek. His piece, Pleasant Stream, imitates the shapes created by the creek as it flows through Irvington. The irregular sides of the benches mimic the flowing bends, whereas the flat, geometric sides are Irvington’s streets. Steel rebar base structures emulate the sediment layers of the watershed area with an organic pattern, various sizes of rebar was used to create the walls filled by handpicked river stone. The bench tops are made of white oak, chosen for its durability to outdoor elements as well as being a domestic hardwood commonly found in Indiana. The tops consist of a random, slatted pattern which will allows for the wood to move during climate changes, rain and snow to drain, and adds variation to the seat surfaces.
Planter Bench by Aaron Dodd – With this piece, the artist’s goal was to bring interest to a functional aspect of the space. While this bench does not directly reference any image or map of Irvington, it does represent values seen in the community, primarily being: one foot in the past, one in the future. Materials that differ in color, form, and symbolism serve to highlight their respective features through contrast. There are three prominent materials in this design: concrete, wood, and plant life.
Cool gray concrete cast in large, basic shapes commands presence, and references trends in contemporary design to simplify. Aged hardwood is used for the bench slats and references the town’s history. In one end of the bench, the structural support acts as a planter that houses the heart of the piece. According to the artist, what is most important about Irvington is that it is alive and growing.
Light, Words, Life
Light, Words, Life is a light and glass installation that welcomes visitors to an elevator lobby at the Indianapolis/Marion County Central Library. Situated in the first floor basement garage, layers of colored light undulate across the length of a 40 foot west wall, leading visitors towards two elevators and a 10 foot square north wall. There, a poem described in colored light encourages library visitors to think of the importance of words and writing. The project focuses on using light as an appropriate metaphor for reflection, illumination and enlightenment. Hidden in the line of colored light on the long west wall are reflections of letters and occasional words taken from the poetry wall.
The artists invited the Indiana Poet Laureate, Joyce Brinkman, to write the poem especially for the project. The full poem reads:
In words won’t
Hide in shadow
It emerges to illuminate life.
Arlon Bayliss studied at the Royal College of Art in London, England. His public art projects include monumental outdoor works and large-scale indoor installations, and his gallery artwork is in collections and exhibitions worldwide. He was a guest artist at Rosenthal Glass and Porcelain in Germany for more than 10 years, and is currently a designer for Blenko Glass in West Virginia. He taught glass in the UK for seven years at Stourbridge College and for more than 20 years as Professor of Art and Design at Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana. His wife and collaborative partner on the artwork, Mary Jo Kramb Bayliss, is an experienced sculptor and educator. They have been working together on projects as the Bayliss Design Team since 2005. Mary Jo also works independently as a public, community and studio artist under the name Blue Monkey House. She received her B.F.A. in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and her M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and taught at Anderson University for 7 years. The Baylisses are based in Anderson, Indiana.
Joyce Brinkman served as Indiana’s first Poet Laureate from 2002-2008. She has a BA from Hanover College and her poetry has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and on CDs, bookmarks and buses, as well as on a wall in the town square of Quezaltepeque, El Salvador. She is a strong proponent of poetry as public art and enjoys working with both visual and other literary artists on projects. She has received fellowships from Mary Anderson Center for the Arts and the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
Peace Dove was a commissioned project by artist and professional firefighter Ryan Feeney. By 2014, Marion County Sheriff John Layton had been so moved by the sheer amount of gun violence in the city that he felt he needed to facilitate a memorial. He turned to Feeney, and allowed him access to the sheriff’s stockpile of confiscated and destroyed gun parts. Feeney designed and fabricated a sculpture of a dove, made entirely from these gun parts, to raise awareness of gun violence and the needs of surviving family members. The intention is to allow families and friends of victims to gather together at the sculpture in mutual grief and support.
Peace Dove is installed temporarily in the lobby of the Central Library until a permanent home can be found for it somewhere in the city. At the moment, it serves as an icon for the Library’s Stand4Peace initiative, which aims to open dialogue about violence in Indianapolis and help local youth think carefully about its causes and effects. For more information about Stand4Peace, visit here.
Ryan Feeney is the owner of Indy Art Forge, and calls himself a “modern-day blacksmith.” He attended Miami University of Ohio, earning a B.F.A. in Sculpture and Graphic Design. Feeney is also a full-time firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department. He has completed several public art commissions in Indianapolis, including the 2017 sculpture of Peyton Manning located at Lucas Oil Stadium. Learn more about Feeney at http://www.indyartforge.com
READ Bike Rack
The Michigan Road Public Library Branch opened in 2018 after years of construction and a design led by krM Architecture. The new library includes this functional white bike rack which spells out the word “READ” with two books forming the letter “A”. The bike rack was created to encourage biking to the library in order to reduce carbon emissions and utilize a new bike path along Michigan Road.
krM Architecture is a design studio of talented craftspeople dedicated to creating architecture and transforming buildings to serve the needs of people.
RIOS (Random Information Organization System)
RIOS is located in the P2 level elevator lobby of the Central Library’s parking garage. It is a wall relief made from cast glass, representing numerous shelves of books. To Francis, a library is the original “random information organization system.” From afar, the view is of infinite shelves of books stretching to eternity, starting in the garage and seemingly passing through a glass wall into the elevator lobby area. Upon closer inspection, the books are shown to be stacked idiosyncratically and they take on individual characteristics, almost like people. Titles are visible on some of them–such as Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughter-house Five–and the viewer is left wondering about the connections between them.
Ed Francis received his B.S. in Fine and Applied Arts at Southern Connecticut State University and his M.F.A. in glass from Kent State University. He participated in the Creative Glass Center of America Fellowship Program and was a teaching assistant at Pilchuck and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. In 1995 he started the glass program at the Indianapolis Art Center, and soon after founded Off Center Glass, a specialty glass production business. He has worked in studios across the country and taught at Alfred University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Indianapolis Art Center. Ed is a professor of art and head of glass studies at Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center in Portsmouth, Virginia.
The Book of Life
The full title of this mural is The Book of Life: The People We Know, the Experiences We Have, and the Conditions under Which We Live. Located on the 6th floor of the Indianapolis/Marion County Library, Central Branch, the mural is appropriately placed in the Indiana Room, where readers can find special editions of books by Indiana authors and rare material about the history and geography of Indiana. The Indiana Room is typically kept locked, so to view the full mural, visitors must find a librarian to unlock it.
The mural was inspired by Booth Tarkington’s novel The Magnificent Ambersons, which was written in 1919 and depicts the fortunes of three generations of one Indianapolis family from the Civil War into the early 20th century. Torluemke spent a year painting this interpretation of the period covered in the book as well as other eras in Indiana history. “This mural was loosely inspired by the novel in that it chronicles the social and economic development of Indianapolis, the lives of some of the prominent citizens in that city and their families, and many of the trials and tribulations experienced by these people. It has always been my hope that after I created this mural, viewers could identify images and events in it that in significant ways parallel the happenings in our own time.” (quoted from the artist’s website, http://www.tomtorluemke.com/murals/murals.html, retrieved 12/19/2016)
The mural is painted on canvas panels and attached to the wall with an adhesive. For more about the mural and its installation, visit http://www.indypl.org/readersconnection/?p=1058
Tom Torluemke was born and raised in Chicago but spent most of his adult life in northwestern Indiana. He works prolifically in a variety of media, including mural painting, stage design, mosaics, oil and acrylic painting, watercolor and sculpture. With over 20 public art commissions throughout the Midwest, the relevance and scope of Torluemke’s ideas, as well as his ability to present them in a meaningful context within their communities, makes him a sought-after artist. Read more about Torluemke at http://www.tomtorluemke.com/main.html.
This two-part sculpture was created by internationally-recognized artist Peter Shelton, in response to a commission offer from the private Indianapolis-Marion County Library Foundation. Shelton was selected by a curatorial team who combed through lists of artists and invited several to interview with them. Although he had never made bronze sculptures in his life, Shelton partnered with a foundry and engineering consultants to design and fabricate the piece.
Both artworks are made of cast bronze reinforced with stainless steel. thinman is on the west side of the south face of Central Library’s Cret Building, and is in the form of a 40-ft-tall, very thin, headless human figure. littlebird is on the east side of the south face of the Cret Building, and is a plump torus resembling an inflated inner tube with a life-sized sparrow perched on its outer edge. Both figures seem to defy gravity, and their surfaces are rich and textured. According to the artist, the figures have no agenda, no narrative and no symbolism: they are simply forms that the artist liked.
The sculpture’s design was controversial: members of the public expressed anger that the neoclassical-style facade of the Cret Building, previously constructed with empty sculpture plinths that were never filled until thinmanlittlebird was commissioned, did not receive artwork that was more traditional-looking. Nevertheless, thinmanlittlebird won a prestigious mention in the Public Art Network’s national Year in Review compilation, in 2010.
Read more about the artist and the artwork at http://www.lalouver.com/resource/shelton_indianapolis/nuvo-thinmanlittlebird.pdf and http://www.lalouver.com/resource/shelton_indianapolis/shelton_hoppe.pdf
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