Elements of sadness were associated with the recent dismantling of the artwork that has anchored the southeast corner of the courthouse block for six years.
Incongruous as the twisted metal might have looked to some against the backdrop of the stately courthouse, “Winter Storm” — like its peers scattered about the city since their 2006 installation during the Sculpture Invitational — had become a part of the community.
It had its detractors, but there were just as many, if not more, who appreciated it.
That can be said of each of the 14 sculptures that have formed a public outdoor art gallery since their installation. And just like the policies in place at all of the world’s outstanding museums, the community is changing the old exhibits, and there is hope that they will be replaced with new ones, bringing different perspectives for local residents and visitors to appreciate and sometimes criticize.
Attitudes about individual pieces in the six-year run of the traveling show have run the gamut. Memories have almost faded of the garish tangle of bicycle parts that was on the City Hall lawn for a few years before it was moved to the recycling center, but it certainly did generate a lot of conversation from those who saw it.
Some have drawn universal approval and even become permanent parts of the community fabric. That was clearly demonstrated by reaction to the statue “Eos” in the Fifth Street median leading into Mill Race Park.
With the exception of a few prudish criticisms, it was universally accepted as “being Columbus.” The community even put its money behind it, raising more than $35,000 to buy it from the artist in a grass-roots campaign.
The same feeling of appreciation was attached to the molded figures lining Third Street. There was also a sense of personal ownership, due in large part to the fact that they were the work of local artist Bob Pulley.
The 2006 Sculpture Invitational that led to the 14 works in the midst of the city was not a breakthrough but a transition in a process that has been around for decades. Public art has always been appreciated in this city, and there are examples still here that date well into the 19th century.
There are pieces by internationally celebrated artists, such as Henry Moore, Jean Tinguely and Dale Chihuly, but they are mingled with works by artists with local ties, such as Pulley and Columbus native Ric Bauer, whose “Skopos” still stands stubbornly in Mill Race Park after surviving a wild ride in the 2008 flood.
Like them or dislike them, each has become a part of this community.
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