Bright-colored, abstract, and metal sculptures have popped up around town, leaving many wondering where they came from or why they are here.
The sculptures were installed as part of a partnership between the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance and the City of Kokomo to create an outdoor exhibit featuring nine art sculptures along the city’s trails and waterways.
The sculptures were selected by the public art committee from artists across the Midwest. The committee is made up of Indiana University Kokomo Fine Arts Professor Gregory Steel, Downtown Creative Placemaking Manager Susan Alexander, and Indiana University Kokomo New Media professors Minda Douglas and Erik Deerly.
The art is on loan for two years, and then it will be replaced by new art submissions.
“The thing that I love about this sculpture walk is that it is dynamic. Every two years we are going to see some new art, and it’s regional,” said Alexander.
Featured artists are from Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan. The committee required each selected artist to deliver their sculptures to the site and assure each piece is constructed just as it was meant.
The committee received just fewer than a hundred submissions. Each sculpture was chosen from the visual appeal and uniqueness from other submissions, and each sculpture had to hold up to Indiana weather within the two-year presentation.
Each piece selected was loaned to the city for $1,000 a year; otherwise, the cost for the pieces ranges from $5,000 to $30,000.
“The timing of our show started a little bit earlier than other shows starting nationwide, so we were able to get some really fine pieces that we might not have had the opportunity to show our community,” said Alexander.
The installations started in March and were comprised of workers from several different departments throughout Kokomo. Despite the rainy days of March, setting up 2,000 pounds of a metal sculpture with the right equipment was a smooth process, according to Alexander.
The outdoor exhibit features an Indianapolis artist, Adam Rathbun, who loaned his sculpture, “Fractured Memories.” The black welded piece can be found behind Kokomo Municipal Stadium, shining behind the ballpark's shadow. Rathbun encouraged those who are looking at it to move around the sculpture to see the illusion of objects unfolding and disintegrating.
“I think it does allow people to maybe take a fresh perspective on things,” said Alexander. “Certainly this art is not expected on the corner when you’re driving down the street.”
Over on the corner of Sycamore and Buckeye streets sits the bright “Astral Projection Yellow,” and then there’s the “Little Rootie Tootie” before the bridge on Apperson Way.
Each sculpture is meant to spark new development for the community by engaging residents and visitors.
“I consider the art and public place development with the art to be our next frontier as we vitalize and build momentum for our city,” said Alexander.
Sculpture walk maps are available at the Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau, located at 700 E. Firmin St. inside Inventrek, or in the downtown library. The maps give the location of each sculpture, and more information is provided on plaques on the sculptures.
The sculptures are accessible to everyone on the Walk of Excellence and the Heritage Trail.