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Editorial: Public art, sculptures beautify Columbus

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Mention the names “Large Arch” and “Eos” and images of the sculptures spring to mind.

“Large Arch” frames architectural treasure First Christian Church, viewed from the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library plaza.

“Eos,” the goddess with trailing flowers, welcomes people to Mill Race Park and the architectural avenue of Fifth Street.

These pieces beautify and define Columbus. They spark conversation and thought. They’ve become woven into the fabric of the community.

“Eos,” for example, installed in Columbus in 2006 for the Columbus Sculpture Invitational, became so popular it was purchased from the artist the following year by local donors and given to the city to be on permanent display.

In time, a similar affinity could develop for Martin Beach’s “Modern Totem,” or one of the eight sculptures selected for the Columbus Indiana Sculpture Biennial program.

Beach’s sculpture was installed in late June in the connector area linking the library plaza and the Columbus Area Visitors Center. The Columbus artist’s granite and limestone sculpture, standing more than 9 feet tall and weighing nearly 8,000 pounds, was commissioned by the Arts Council to be part of the plaza’s $1.4 million facelift.

People who attended the plaza’s June 27 public reopening or have wandered by since have had a chance to see Beach’s work and ponder its meaning. Beach said he considers totems to be symbols of community, family and identity.

The Sculpture Biennial program, unveiled about the same time and organized by the Arts Council, includes works such as:

“Flamenco,” which mimics a flamenco dancer, was installed near The Commons at Fourth and Washington streets.

“It’s All About Electricity,” which resembles a tree being struck by lightning, was installed on the western side of the Bartholomew County Courthouse plaza.

These pieces are in the heart of Columbus’ arts district for all to see and ponder. They have added to the conversation about art and how it benefits a community.

Public art and sculpture elevate the quality of life in a community, and the way in which Columbus embraces this belief separates it from so many others.

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