Art out in the open

June 14th, 2019

By Corey McMaken | The Journal Gazette

In Fort Wayne, we usually hear the term “public art” in relation to the murals that have been springing up all over the city. But in cities around the area, public art projects this summer include sculptures, chairs and wheelbarrows.

Take advantage of the sunny days and stretch your legs while checking out art in a neighboring community.


The Decatur Sculpture Tour unveils 27 new sculptures today as part of an event that includes a plein-air paint out.

Painting registration begins at 8 a.m. with children's activities from 2 to 3 p.m. at Adams Public Library, 128 S. 3rd St., and a chance to meet the artists in Storybook Park across the street from 2 to 4 p.m. Food vendors begin at 4 p.m. on Madison Street and there are youth dance performances, a chalk walk and beer tent at 5 p.m.

A sculpture unveiling is set for 6 p.m. at the Courthouse Square, though most of the sculptures will be uncovered during the day for the artists working on paintings, which will be sold in the afternoon.

Decatur has become so well known for the sculpture tour that people from cities around the country including Rock Falls, Illinois, and Atlanta have called to find out how it got started, says Coni Mayer, Decatur Sculpture Tour committee member.

Angola is launching a sculpture display this year and reached out to Decatur for advice.

“That probably was the thing that made us stop and say 'Oh my gosh, people are calling us to see how we did that,'” Mayer says.

She says mayors from other cities will sometimes show up and covertly walk around to see what they can learn before revealing themselves to ask about the project.

Mayer says city and tour representatives are always open to speaking with other towns, but she credits a lot of the tour's success to local artist Gregory Mendez, who used his connections to help get it off the ground.

This is the eighth year for the tour, which includes artists from eight states and England. The sculptures will be on display for 10 months. There are 17 permanent sculptures also on display in Decatur.

More information on today's activities and a map of the sculptures is available at Visitors can listen to artists describe their sculptures in an audio walking tour through the Otocast app.


Sculptures Angola debuts with an unveiling ceremony Saturday. Included are four sculptures positioned at the four corners of the city's Public Square downtown.

It is the first project of the Mayor's Arts Council, which was formed in October. The council includes 25 to 30 people from Angola and Steuben County who voted on which sculptures would be in the yearlong exhibition.

“We're kind of known as a tourist community up there, but I don't think you can be a tourist community without the arts,” Mayor Richard M. Hickman says.

The sculptures feature welding, which is a skill needed in area industries, says Maria Davis, downtown services coordinator.

“These welded sculptures can be a way for people to see welding perhaps in a different light, ... and they might be attracted to learn the skill,” Davis says.

The majority of the funding for the project comes from the two-year-old Angola Hometown Collaboration Initiative. In 1,000 surveys collected by the initiative, “arts and culture” was the top pick for place-making activities.

The sculptures will be unveiled starting at 4 p.m. Saturday with at least three of the artists describing their work. There will be live music at Trine University's T. Furth Center for Performing Arts at 5:30 p.m. followed by an artists reception at 6:30 p.m.

Hickman says Angola is on a journey with the arts, even if he isn't sure where that journey is going yet.

Other upcoming art projects in the city include an alleyway gallery with rotating pieces by local artists and a mural just off the downtown square. Sculptures Angola is already planned to continue in 2020.

The mayor hopes future projects also include music and theater.

“Arts and humanities keep a community from becoming stale, I think,” Hickman says.

New Haven

There are dogs all over New Haven – and not just being walked in the parks.

The New Haven Community Foundation recently unveiled the first pieces in its Bulldog Community Art Project, which includes 14 six-foot dog sculptures and eight smaller dogs. The pieces were sponsored by local groups and designed by area artists.

The project is in part to raise awareness of the foundation, which also wanted to do something fun in the city, board member Craig Dellinger says.

New Haven High School's mascot is a bulldog.

The bulldogs were recently on display at New Haven's city hall and were on floats in last weekend's Canal Days parade.

“Everybody's loved them,” Dellinger says. “We haven't had any negative comments.”

The fiberglass sculptures are being placed in sponsors' locations around the city for permanent display.

The project doesn't end there. Dellinger says he expects another round of bulldogs to be completed and on display by August, and others could follow if there is enough interest from sponsors.

A map will be available later with details about the bulldogs and their artists.


The Art on Main project began in 2013 with windmills in honor of Flint and Walling Manufacturing Co., the city's oldest business.

Kendallville Mayor W. SuzAnne Handshoe says she believes fostering art helps grow individuality and creativity in the community.

This summer, Art on Main features 17 Adirondack chairs designed by community artists and placed along Main Street.

“We try to find something that is unique and will stand out for the art,” says Lisa Wolf of the Kendallville Chamber of Commerce. Other years have featured rain barrels, bird houses, benches and wheelbarrows.

This year's designs include Frankenstein's monster, a mermaid and the Avengers. One chair will feature stained-glass inlays, another has 112 book titles on it.

The Chamber will have a map to tell visitors more about the chairs and their artists.

Money raised by a chair in a September auction is split between its artist and the fund for next year's Art on Main project.


The Summer Art Exhibit has been around for 10 years and has included pieces such as benches, chairs, wine barrels and easels. Titled “That's How We Roll” this year, it features 20 antique-style wheelbarrows built locally and designed by local artists.

The project was inspired by an exhibition of Seward Johnson copper statues that were displayed in Auburn in 2007 and again later. After the first exhibit, the Downtown Auburn Business Association wanted to do something similar, President Mike Littlejohn says.

“After 10 years, we've become known for this exhibit,” he says. There is usually a waiting list of sponsors and artists that want to be involved in the project.

Littlejohn, who owns Carbaugh Jewelers, says businesses might not see instant gratification of people coming for the exhibit and stopping in downtown stores to buy products. But getting people to the area reminds them what businesses are there for their future shopping needs.

The wheelbarrows will be in place around downtown Auburn on Monday and visitors will be able to pick up a brochure with a map. More information is also available at

There is an art walk scheduled for 6 p.m. July 18 for the public to hear more about the wheelbarrows. The pieces will be auctioned at a dinner Sept. 21 to raise money for downtown Auburn projects and seed money for next year's exhibit.

Categories Quality of Life