MICHIGAN CITY | The art movement that has spurred a budding comeback of Michigan City's downtown will be enhanced with sculptures extending to the city's lakefront.
The idea from what's called a "Sculpt Fusion" is to project an image that will attract more downtown investment and spending. City Councilman Rich Murphy, who serves on the city's Public Art Committee, said prospective investors often stay or leave based on their first impressions of a downtown.
"If they don't like it, that can impact their decision whether they take their businesses, themselves or their investment dollars here," said Murphy.
The park board has approved erecting two large sculptures in Washington Park and one other similar-sized sculpture at Charles R. Westcott Park at U.S. 12 and Michigan Boulevard, next to Blue Chip Casino.
Nearly 10 other sculptures will also go up on Franklin Street on the city's north end from 5th to 9th streets.
Park Department superintendent Jan Orlich said another goal is to connect the lakefront with the downtown by drawing people who will go to both locations to look at the sculptures.
The sculpture that will go up at the entrance to Washington Park is titled "Whispering Stones." It's made with 11-foot long steel rods with carved rocks on the top that "whistle or sing" when the wind blows through the openings in the rocks, said Orlich.
Orlich said the sculptures were chosen from nearly 50 entries after a call for art was echoed by the city's Public Art Committee.
Each of the sculptures are being leased at $1,000 to $2,000 for a two-year period. Orlich said the sculptures will go up sometime between early and mid June.
"We feel it will bring people to visit our community and heighten awareness for public art," said Orlich.
Murphy said the sculptures should further what's taking place in the Uptown Art District, which was formed several years ago after investors came in and purchased many of the once vacant or underperforming buildings in the downtown.
Some of the investors are artists who live and work in at home studios and sell or display their creations in galleries. Revitalization of the north end still has a ways to go but the amount of aesthetic improvements and increase in traffic is noticeable. The sculptures are part of the downtown master plan emphasizing public art.
"We think it will really highlight our downtown and be part of this revitalization that we're seeing," said Murphy.