Elmira Annis Irvington Civic Plaza
Artist: Aaron Dodd, April Knauber, Elizabeth Jorgensen, Jared Cru Smith, McKayla Bensheimer
Date created: 2018
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.