Tree art being transplanted

A sculpture on the Columbus City Hall front lawn soon will be moved to a location at 11th and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.

Karen Shrode, executive director of the Columbus Area Arts Council, said the city and arts officials have agreed to relocate Decathexis to the lawn of the Parks Operations building, 330 11th St.

The sculpture will be fairly close to the street and people will be able to see it, Shrode said.

It won’t have the same level of visibility as being along a highly traveled state highway, however.

The city had proposed moving Decathexis to Mill Race Park or Noblitt Park, said David Kadlec, curator for the Sculpture Biennial project.

But arts officials were concerned that both parks are susceptible to flooding and that either location would be too isolated and could result in the sculpture being damaged or vandalized.

Shrode said she anticipates the sculpture will be moved well before Sept. 11, as requested by the city, to allow any City Hall landscaping that is disturbed to be restored before an upcoming ceremony.

In an email to Shrode, city attorney Jeff Logston wrote that Mayor Kristen Brown wanted to relocate the sculpture so it would not impede the city’s 9/11 ceremonies on the City Hall lawn. The city places 3,000 flags on the front lawn in memory of people who died on 9/11.

Decathexis was on the City Hall lawn during last year’s 9/11 remembrance event, which marks the 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. The sculpture had been installed two months earlier.

The city’s contract with the arts council and the biennial exhibition calls for the city to pay for any of the eight sculptures in the exhibit to be moved at the city’s request. Taylor Brothers president David Doup had estimated that moving any of the sculptures would cost $500 to $1,000, depending on the piece and the equipment needed.

When it is moved to the new location along 11th Street, it will be near the Nexus sculpture by Sam Spiczka, which is on the southwest corner of the intersection. Both sites are visible from 11th Street traffic passing by.

Move called censorship

Kadlec described the city’s actions in moving the sculpture as aesthetic censorship.“It it rare to have a sculptor and their heartfelt creation so gracefully exhibit the passage of time,” Kadlec said of Decathexis. “Our tax dollars are poised to be spent for censorship. Civic power used to move artwork to a less visible location because of aesthetic judgement is a variant of book burning.”Moving the sculpture sets a bad precedent for Columbus, Kadlec said.

“This move bucks our brilliant history of innovative risk taking,” he said.

He asked Columbus residents to let Brown know that they don’t want tax money spent on censorship.

Kadlec said he chose the original location for Decathexis because it is reflective of the immense loss of 9/11 and how America transitioned and symbolically changed after the terrorist attacks.

The sculpture mimics a tree’s design and is about change, he said. In that way, it mimics the way government administers a city — dealing with change, he said.

Shrode and Kadlec have asked to be notified when the sculpture is moved so they can be on site during the procedure, Shrode said.

The contract for Decathexis expires in June 2016, but the arts council has an understanding with the sculpture’s creator, Anthony Heinz May, that he does not want it back, Shrode said.

“He takes fallen trees and repurposes them into art,” Shrode said. “His whole way of operating it is to let it naturally degrade and go back to nature,” she said.

The sculpture will stay at 11th and Jackson for as long as the city wishes to keep it there, Shrode said.

About the sculpture

What: Decathexis

Artist: Anthony Heinz May

Year: 2014

Location: Being moved to 11th and Jackson streets from Columbus City Hall

Description: Created from a recycled tree, Decathexis is a pixelated representation of a living tree.

About the exhibit

The Columbus Arts District sponsors the Columbus Indiana Sculpture Biennial.

The sculptures are temporarily placed in high-traffic areas and long the recently enhanced Columbus People Trails system.

The 2014 Columbus Indiana Sculpture Biennial is funded through private donations as well as a $25,000 Efroymson Award for Excellence in Cultural Tourism Development, presented to the Arts Council at the 2013 Midwest Cultural Tourism Conference.

Source: Columbus Area Arts Council

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.