Iconic sculptures representing a time-gone-by in Columbus are returning to charm a new generation.
A celebration from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday will welcome back whimsical bronze sculptures of a little boy and little girl who for years could be seen — captured in time — along what is now Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s fountain in the 1200 block of Central Avenue.
The event at the school corporation headquarters also will welcome back a car sculpture commissioned by Arvin Industries to commemorate the grand opening of its former headquarters building, which eventually became the BCSC administration building.
The sculptures of the little boy, known as “Frog Pond,” and the little girl, “Lilly,” won’t be identical to the two sculptures that some residents recall fondly. Originally, “Frog Pond’s” companion was “Puddles” — both of them commissioned by the late James Baker, former Arvin Industries chairman.
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However, “Puddles” was stolen in 2012, leaving “Frog Pond” alone for several years until the district decided to remove him from his spot near the fountain while a replacement for “Puddles” was commissioned.
Linda Peterson, who created the little girl sculpture now known as “Lilly,” said it was important for her to develop the piece as one that people would remember.
“Lilly” took Peterson about a year to complete, working from sketches and a small model, she said. But her goal was to make “Lilly” different from “Puddles,” she said.
“Lilly” has short hair, instead of long hair on “Puddles,” and the new sculpture has her holding a frog instead of a pair of shoes.
The frog in the original sculpture was being held by the little boy, but it was also taken when “Puddles” disappeared, she said.
“I wanted her to look angelic and like a 5-year-old having fun,” Peterson said.
“Frog Pond” was also given a new stick, which is poking at a frog on the base of the little girl’s statue, while new lilly pads were added on the base of the sculpture of the little girl, Peterson said.
“It was important to have the elements that were missing, but make it different or new,” said Peterson of the job which took her six months working full time to complete.
Appealing to all ages
Harold Hatter, who found Peterson to create “Lilly,” said he thinks the artwork of the little boy and girl appeals to all ages.
“Even if it’s just a kid, they can relate to it,” Hatter said. “When I drive by that, I see little kids playing, and I recognize what they’re doing.”
Two former directors of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation, Ethan Crough and Janice Montgomery, led a fundraising campaign last year to fund the restoration of “Frog Pond” and the creation of “Lilly” that raised more than $23,600.
Major donors to the campaign included Heritage Fund _ The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, The Carl and Mildred Reeves Foundation, the Columbus Area Visitors Center, the Community Education Coalition and CSO Architects, said Suzi Bruin, BCSC school foundation executive director.
The return of “Lilly” next to “Frog Pond” is special because Columbus has a legacy for architecture and art, said Chris Beach, Columbus Learning Center director of operations.
Beach is familiar with the sculptures because she saw them regularly when she worked at the BCSC administration building while the center was being built.
“(BCSC) supports the children of the community, so it’s a reminder of the work they do every day,” Beach said. “I think it was really special to bring it back.”
The Columbus Area Visitors Center donated $1,000 toward the restoration effort, something the organization felt was important, executive director Karen Niverson said.
“Public art is an important part of the visitor experience in Columbus,” Niverson said.
The BCSC building is a great example of adaptive reuse of architecture within the community, she said, and the sculptures are an important part of it.
“When I see the children by the pond, it’s a serene scene,” Niverson said.
The sculptures of the two children represent all children in Columbus and Bartholomew County, Montgomery said.
The artist said she hopes those who view the sculptures sense the important message they bring.
“It meant a lot to me to help bring things back together,” Peterson said. “Goodness and kindness can win out over things that aren’t so great.”
Nearby, the sculpture of a car, “When I Was Your Age,” will be placed in the park and green space off Cottage Avenue after being in storage for years.
Created by sculptor J. Seward Johnson Jr., it was previously located in the roundabout on 13th Street near the BCSC administration building.
ArvinMeritor sold its former headquarters to the school district in 2005 and the statue was eventually moved to the company’s new headquarters in the Walesboro Industrial Park.
Now known as Faurecia, the company spent $60,000 to recondition the sculpture in 2014 and has kept it indoors since then, said Dawn Swindle, a Faurecia spokeswoman.
The bronze sculpture depicts a full-scale replica of a man in 1930s clothing with a long-sleeved shirt rolled to his elbows beside the front fender of a 1931 Model A Ford. The individual is depressing a tire pump to inflate the front left tire of the vehicle. A young boy sits inside the car with his hands on the steering wheel.
The sculpture was commissioned in May 1989 and dedicated in 1991 as symbolic of the company’s beginnings as the Indianapolis Air Pump Co., founded in 1919.
Hatter also said he’s pleased to see the car statue coming back.
“I think of that from the standpoint of a simpler time — a peaceful, simpler time,” he said.
The sculptures are pieces that really endear themselves to members of Columbus’ community, said Erin Hawkins, Columbus Area Visitors Center marketing director. In particular, the car statue also tells the story of the former Arvin headquarters as part of Columbus’ history, she said.
“In general, people respond positively to figurative work,” Hawkins said.
Security measures with new technology have been installed to make sure the sculptures stay in place for the community to enjoy, BCSC superintendent Jim Roberts said.
“We plan to light the statues and have cameras in place to monitor them,” he said. “We also will have a three-foot fence around the car to help keep people at a distance.”
Saturday’s celebration of the return of the sculptures will feature music from the Columbus East Jazz Band and a variety of family-friendly activities related to art and education, Montgomery said.
“Public art is so important, especially in our community with all the architecture,” Montgomery said. “This is a great tribute to the community where we live.”
What: Celebration marking the return of a car sculpture,” When I Was Your Age,” and two bronze sculptures depicting a little boy and girl, “Frog Pond” and “Lilly”
When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. administration building, 1200 Central Ave.
Parking: Available nearby in the United Way of Bartholomew County parking lot.