The Columbus Area Arts Council has delayed installing three sculptures that are part of the Columbus Indiana Sculpture Biennial exhibit until legal issues about whether they can be located on public property are cleared up.
“Counterpoint” by Dale Enochs, “Emergence II” by Eric Stephenson and “Acquisitions and Accusations: The King” by Matthew Davey were to be installed this month.
The arts council decided to delay the installations after Columbus officials asked arts council representatives to sign a contract controlling sculpture placement on public property.
Bartholomew County officials have not asked the arts council to sign a contract about where the sculptures are placed on county property.
“We pretty much let the arts council work with the artists,” said county commissioner Carl Lienhoop. “I think those pieces are allowed to stay there for at least two years if they want.”
The exhibition has eight sculptures, with five already installed on either city or county right-of-way or property.
The “Counterpoint” sculpture is proposed for the Robert Garton Plaza, which is city property, and “Emergence” is a second sculpture scheduled for the courthouse lawn. “The King” is planned for The Republic’s lawn.
The last major sculpture event in Columbus was the 2006 Sculpture Invitational in which 15 pieces were installed around the city. None of those sculptures required a contract with the city, said arts council executive director Karen Shrode.
“There was probably not the formal contract that the current administration is trying to put in place,” she said. “There was more of just a gentlemen’s agreement in the past.”
Shrode said the sculpture “Yellowwood Coral,” which was placed in front of city hall during the 2006 exhibit, was not Mayor Fred Armstrong’s favorite piece of public art, but he left it on the lawn for the duration of the yearlong contract the arts council had signed with artist Lucy Slivinski.
David Kadlec, the curator for the Biennial Sculpture project, said he consulted with the city and went through the locations, dimensions, weight and look of each sculpture before sculpture installation began June 18.
Kadlec said he met with Mayor Kristen Brown in May to discuss where the sculptures would be placed on public property.
“I went in to say I’m putting one in your front yard,” he said. “She was happy with it.”
However, Brown said Monday she was surprised when the tree-like sculpture “Decathexis” was installed July 1 on the lawn of city hall.
There is no formal agreement between the Columbus Area Arts Council, Kadlec and the city about the location of the sculptures, and the arrival of “Decathexis” prompted the need for an official contract, the mayor said.
The mayor said she didn’t know it was being installed until it had already been placed at city hall.
Kadlec said the city knew when the sculpture was being installed because city workers used their own forklift to help install “Decathexis” in front of city hall.
“The mayor wants the power to relocate sculptures on city land. She is not signing an agreement that says, ‘This will be here for two years,’” he said. “She just wants the power, whether she exercises it or not, to move them.”
Problems with ‘Flamenco’
In July, Columbus Board of Works members, which also includes the mayor, said the board had concerns whether the red “Flamenco” sculpture could stay where it had been installed in the public right-of-way near The Commons downtown.
The sculpture could cause line-of-sight problems for
drivers, City Attorney Jeff Logston said.
City Engineer Beth Fizel looked over “Flamenco” and its location before the sculpture was installed and said the location doesn’t impede sight lines of drivers or pedestrians.
Kadlec said Fizel had reviewed all of the sculptures prior to their installation and gave them all approval.
After discussing “Flamenco” on July 1, the board of works tabled the issue, and no action has been taken about the sculpture’s location.
Logston is writing the contract that the arts council will be asked to sign, the mayor said. She wasn’t sure when it would be ready.
When completed, the contract will have to be reviewed by the arts council, Kadlec and all of the artists involved in the project, Shrode said.
“The agreement with the artists and the arts council states that their works will be installed at specific locations,” she said. “Now we have to go back to the artists and get an amendment of those agreements. The artists will need to sign this agreement.”
Kadlec and Shrode met with Logston last week to discuss the sculptures on city property and the mayor’s concerns.
If the city wants any of the installed sculptures on public property moved, the city would have to pay for the move, Kadlec said.
If the artist objects to the move, the artist could decide to remove the artwork from Columbus and could request it be shipped back at city expense.
“It would be very fair for the artist to take the work back,” Kadlec said.
David Doup, Taylor Brothers president, said the company moved a few of the biennial sculptures and said the cost ranges from about $500 to $1,000, depending on the piece that needs to be moved and the equipment needed to do it.
The arts council received private donations and a $25,000 grant for the sculpture exhibition, but most of the money has been spent to get the sculptures here. It cost about $3,000 per sculpture for the stipend to pay the artist, Shrode said.