CROWN POINT | As part of the Crown Point Library’s Grand Opening celebration, Dyer artist Tom Torluemke, designer of “The Reader,” met with library patrons and staff. Torluemke explained the concept behind his design of the art work which hangs along the library staircase from the second to the first floor.
Torluemke, who also painted a 5,000 square foot block long mural for Indianapolis in honor of Super Bowl XLVI, was awarded the suspended art work contract in January 2011.
“We basically felt that this piece was very thought provoking and would engage our patrons,” Art Committee Chairperson Laura Clemons said at the time Torluemke design was chosen. “The mobile is moveable and our patrons are going to get a different view every time they come to the library.”
One of four designs considered, “The Reader” is made of painted ash and birch woods. Torluemke’s mobile is loaded with symbolism inspired by the library’s mission “Read, Discover and Connect in the Library” in combination with elements of literature and Crown Point history. Symbols include: the sun’s rays representing an open book releasing knowledge; arms for man striving to advance; a hat and a book for a reader; an apple for education; scroll for learning; key to knowledge; and two rings for Crown Point’s marriage mill with small cars on the blue ring honoring the Cobe Cup race. There is a cat’s cradle at the bottom representing the novel written by Indiana author Kurt Vonnegut and a question mark for curiosity.
Track lighting illuminates the piece.
Torluemke 350 foot mural in Indianapolis is titled “Simple Pleasures.” It is a modern graphic style painting depicting 80 figures enjoying the simple memory making pleasures of life such as a child’s birthday party, knitting, dinner with grandparents, walking in the woods and reading.
In addition to mural painting, Torluemke works in a variety of media, including stage design, mosaics, oil and acrylics, watercolors and sculpture.
Torluemke’s public work includes: “After Glow” at the Chicago Cultural Center; “The Inland Sea: Contemporary Art Around Lake Michigan” at Chicago’s Jan Cicero Gallery; “Present” at the Hyde Park Art Center, “In the Company of Strangers” at Valparaiso’s Brauer Museum of Art; “Bounce” at the South Bend Regional Museum; “Peace in the Arts” at the Baihai International Peace Conference in San Francisco; the Alabama Watercolor Society Exhibition at the Birmingham Museum of Art; “In Indiana” series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the mural at the Indianapolis-Marion County Library; and two 1,000 square foot terrazzo floors for the Indianapolis International Airport.
Born and raised in Chicago’s inner city. Torluemke began drawing at an early age to communicate with his great uncle Freddy who was deaf and mute.
“We drew pictures back and forth,” Torluemke said in an earlier interview.
His interest in public art was inspired in 1967 by watching African-American artist William Walker paint a mural titled “Wall of Respect”: by Cabrini Green.
“We lived near there and my mom would take me by and I watched them paint this civil rights mural,” Torluemke said. “It really moved me that these guys were able to do that with a public forum. I think that in the large part motivates me to create public art because everybody sees it and if you think of important things when you create the art, something for humanity, it can speak loudly to all the people who keep seeing it year after year.”
Torluemke said his one of his favorite public art pieces is the “Book of Life” in the Indianapolis.
“I used literature, the ‘Magnificent Ambersons’ by Booth Tarkington as the starting point for that,” Torluemke said. “It tracks a family’s life from humble means to great wealth and power in the community.”
Through the years, a series of setbacks knocked them down, Torluemke said, and they climbed back up with a greater understanding and care for humanity and what is really important in life.
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