MICHIGAN CITY — Amid a spirit of excitement and appreciation, the fourth annual SculptFusion Open House allowed guests to hear more about four new large art pieces, part of the rotating exhibit of public sculpture, unveiled in the Uptown Arts District by the Michigan City Public Art Committee.
The new sculptures are: Sunny Han’s “Crystal Effect III,” Charles Pilkey’s “Motor City,” Ruth Migdal’s “Ascending,” and Fisher Stolz’s “Clairvoyance.”
MAC president Robin Kohn said, “These four newly leased sculptures feature highly original works by noted sculptors and have elicited a variety of animated comments from viewers, which is exactly what we had hoped for in the Uptown Arts District, Washington Park, major roadways such as Michigan City Boulevard, Charles Westcott Park, the city’s West side, and other sites to come.
“We continue to look forward to outstanding expressions of creativity that artists like these bring to our community.”
Kohn also talked about the Otocast app that enriches the appreciation of the artwork. It can be downloaded for free at the Apple/Google Play Store by choosing “Michigan City, IN SCULPTFUSION.” It tells more about each piece and features artists talking about them.
Shannon Eason, assistant superintendent of the Michigan City Parks Department, and treasurer of MAC, said her favorite new piece is “Motor City” because of its industrial theme and tie-in with the Pullman-Standard Railroad Car Manufacturing Company.
“It’s somewhat magical. It has all these tiny people hidden in it doing something different,” Eason said. “Every layer is fun and it brings out the child in you to discover the little people. It’s like having two different pieces.”
Eason, who’s been on the MAC for six years, said she’s “learned a lot about appreciating different art forms and how people appreciate art differently. People talk about the art and it makes our public space come alive because people are looking. It brings excitement.”
Jane Daley of Visit Michigan City La Porte and MAC secretary, is also most fond of “Motor City.”
“You have to get up close and personal with that piece because of all the little pieces involved,” she said.
Two of the artists, Han and Stolz, were on hand to answer questions about their work.
Han talked about the 60- to 90-day process it took to construct “Crystal Effect III,” described as primary colored squares linked ingeniously. It’s located at the corner of 9th and Franklin.
He describes it as “a steel modular geometric form, but also some aspects of origami techniques” ... “created by welding metal pieces together, sealing the seams, heating the piece, and blowing compressed air into the art. It gives the piece the effect it’s blowing up.”
This isn’t the first time Han has created a piece of this variety. Running into the roadblock of finding an oven to heat his artwork in, he constructed his own.
“If you can’t do it, make it,” he said. “If circumstances don’t let you do it, then do it yourself. Calculate 90 percent and leave that 10 percent up to the art, so it can do what it wants to do. Plan for the unexpected. It’s always a nice surprise when something doesn’t work out the way I expect it to. It’s boring otherwise.”
Kohn likes “Crystal Effect III” the most.
“It’s colorful and whimsical. You need something at that location to capture everyone’s attention – to pull them into the Uptown Arts District,” she said.
Stolz, creator of “Clairvoyance,” explained the idea behind his stainless steel piece is “how a lot of people have experienced the feeling that something hasn’t yet happened and then it does – it’s that glimpse of something that’s going to happen.”
He said that the two-dimensional round piece, with spokes at the bottom, represents the present, while the three-dimensional similar spoked circle at the top stands for the ability to see into the future. The series of arched pieces at the top portray a camera lens taking multiple sets of exposures. Other circles inside the piece signify an iris and pupil.
Stolz has exhibited nationally and is familiar with Michigan City, having had pieces on display at Purdue University Northwest for years. He said “Clairvoyance,” at the corner of Michigan Boulevard and U.S. 12, took about 200 hours to create.
Don Babcock, director of economic development at NIPSCO, attended the Open House and commended the city.
“The focus on the arts lifts the bar for everyone in the city,” he said, “You’ll see continued involvement in the arts and a great experience you can’t get anywhere else in Northwest Indiana.”
Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer expressed appreciation for the MAC’s efforts and his support of the pieces, which bring the total collection to 15 in or near the arts district.
“I’m most excited that it’s enhancing our downtown. I get so many compliments about it from outside our community through emails,” he said. “The arts have revitalized our downtown and will continue to. It’s rewarding.”