VALPARAISO | The city and the Midwest Sculpture Initiative are teaming again to provide art lovers with a fresh batch of sculptures for the city's art walk.
Later this spring, the 15 sculptures along Cumberland Drive and Cumberland Crossing Drive, including the one in front of the Valparaiso YMCA, will be replaced with 15 new pieces. A 16th piece will be added to the center of the roundabout where the two roads meet.
Also, the sculpture of "Mercury" next to the Eastgate roundabout will be replaced with a new piece titled "Tandem." Now on display in Dearborn, Mich., "Tandem" resembles bright yellow traffic signals and was chosen to try to provide something that is more visible to motorists and passersby.
The city's Redevelopment Commission is paying the $21,675 cost of leasing the artworks. The artists receive $700 each to have their works displayed, and each piece is for sale. If they sell while on display in Valparaiso, the commission gets a percentage of the sale price.
"We went through about 300 pieces in three hours, and we didn't select so much as eliminate pieces," said Stuart Summers, the commission's executive director. "We had seven of us there, and, if we didn't get four hands (voting approval), it was eliminated. We went through that process three of four times before we got down to 25 pieces."
The members of the city's Art Advisory Committee then discussed what the best balance would be of the finalists, trying to include something that would appeal to kids and things that would challenge adults, also considering whether the pieces would look good on Cumberland or would be better in a downtown setting.
A description of the specific pieces isn't being released until the artists have been notified and until the other 12 communities working with MSI have a chance to make their selections, but Summers described the sculpture for the Cumberland roundabout as being a "big, broad, loud red piece."
"We tried to get bigger pieces," he said. "They will stand out in the fall and winter days. There are pieces that are tall and bold and pieces that are fun. One is made of found objects — someone's junk is fodder for someone else's sculpture — and it will be attractive to families."
Many of the sculptures are steel to reflect the area's heritage, but one is acrylic and Fiberglas, which allows for more texture to be sculpted into it. One is a kind of weather vane with moving parts. People can sit on some or interact with them to stimulate their imagination and sense of fun.
"We see the art walk as a complement to the strategy of keeping Valparaiso vibrant, especially the new part of town that is going through redevelopment," Summers said. "We hope it adds to tourism and helps make Valparaiso a nice place to live and work."
Councilman Jan Dick said at Wednesday's commission meeting that the "Mercury" sculpture "certainly has raised a lot of comment."
"Wait until you see the next one," Summers said.