Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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Artists Share Their Designs For Promenade Park Sculpture

Five nationally recognized artists have been invited to submit proposals to create an iconic sculpture that will be the visual anchor of the Promenade Park entrance.

In January 2016, the Waterfield Foundation donated $100,000 through the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. for the creation of the entryway sculpture. The donation, combined with a 50% match from Lilly Endowment, Inc., brings the total value of the donation to $150,000. The Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department partnered with Arts United to ensure that the final piece of art represents the rivers and the growing vibrancy of downtown Fort Wayne through an unbiased selection process. Arts United assembled a volunteer committee of art experts and community members to review and recommend best practices for public art selection. The selection committee is led by Alec Johnson, Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department Landscape Architect and Ruth Stone, an Arts United Board Member and past project manager for IPFW Sculpture with Purpose. Other committee members include:

  • Nancy Stewart, Arts United Board Member and Commissioner representing northeast Indiana for the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency
  • Rick Cartwright, retired Dean of the University of Saint Francis School of Creative Arts
  • Charles Shepard, President & CEO of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art
  • Rena Bradley, community development coordinator for Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries and winner of the Knight Cities Challenge in 2016
  • Chris Ruckman, downtown resident and Treasurer of the West Central Neighborhood Association

Advisory support will be provided by additional representatives from Riverfront Fort Wayne, Arts United, the Board of Park Commissioners and the City of Fort Wayne.

The five invited artists represent a variety of media preferences, artistic styles and experiences. The Waterfield Foundation, the Parks & the Recreation Department and the selection committee are delighted with the submissions and look forward to reviewing the sculptures based on the criteria set forth in the request for proposal and the potential visual impact within the park. Each sculpture will be evaluated based on characteristics such as artistic and aesthetic quality, durability, sustainability, uniqueness and its representation of diverse cultures and styles.

The following artists were invited to submit proposals. Full biographies, sculpture summaries and photos of their proposed sculpture can be found at For those who would like to download renderings and photos of the artists’ sculptures, please visit

· Artist: Osman Akan

Osman Akan studied graphic design at Bilkent University and holds a master’s degree in Critical Studies and Integrated Media from the California Institute of the Arts. In 2007 Akan received the New York State Council on the Arts individual artist grant to realize “The Third Bridge,” a commission for the 40th year celebration of the arts in New York City Parks. In 2016, he installed “Lux Aeterna,” a commission for the Indianapolis Bicentennial Plaza that is installed in front of the Indiana State House.

Sculpture: Flow

Fort Wayne is a hub of multiple rivers that historically have brought trade, transportation, industry and development to this region. This metal sculpture, entitled Flow, not only carries the meaning of the artist’s last name but also will act as a gentle reminder of this rich history and the ever-changing nature of life around rivers. Formally, layered curves of the artwork depict the natural motion of water. Akin to the flow of water around solid objects -like rocks- in rivers and creeks, helix curves move around the inner void of the sculpture giving its final form. By having a small footprint this form also contributes to the ease of navigation around the heavy pedestrian traffic expected within the artwork area. The finished sculpture will be approximately 19 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter.

· Artist: Michael A. Dunbar

Michael Dunbar served for 33 years as the Coordinator of Art-in-Architecture for the state of Illinois. During his 43 years of experience, he has created more than 41 major outdoor works of art in private collections, museums, universities and corporate art collections world-wide.

Sculpture: All Along the Watch Tower

Mr. Dunbar’s sculpture submissionis composed of three unique elements. A three-sided tower base which makes reference to the three rivers that are so much a part of the cultural heritage of the City of Fort Wayne. At the core of the design is a cog wheel that represents the machinery and industrial innovations that have been a significant impact on the economy of Fort Wayne. The spire of the tower is in reference to the unlimited future of telecommunication and is accented by two grid-like elements which reference the historic Wells and Harrison Streets bridges. The sculpture would weigh approximately 3 tons and stand approximately 19 feet tall by 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

· Artist: Linda Howard

Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Ms. Howard studied at several prestigious universities, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Denver and the School of Architecture in New York. She currently lives and works in Bradenton, Florida. In her 42-year career, she has created and installed sculptures in eighteen states and in the country of Australia.

Sculpture: Convergence – The Flow of Three Rivers Convergence

suggests the flow of the three rivers coming together, which has unified this region and the people. As one moves around the sculpture, one experiences a visual adventure, never seeing the same view twice. Light and shadows constantly change in the ambient light. The form relates to the rhythm of the water, the heartbeat of the three rivers, a crossroad, and a powerful unifying force. The design creates a force of energy and momentum which is always moving forward. This art form is uplifting and leaves one with a sense of delight. The sculpture, Convergence, creates a space for contemplation, introspection, solitude and peace. The completed sculpture will weight approximately 2,400 pounds and measure approximately 19 feet high, 28 feet wide, and 28 feet deep.

· Artist: Nathan S. Pierce

Nathan Pierce is a Midwest sculptor from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, who explores the use of steel in a variety of forms, sizes, and finishes. He has had public art installations and gallery exhibitions in twelve states. He was the recipient of the 2013 Lewis C Weinberg Sculpture Award in the Skokie North Shore Sculpture Park, Skokie, IL.

Sculpture: Embrace

An “Embrace” is to hold something closely with a sign of affection. From the most dramatic and predominant viewing angle, this sculpture suggests the open and inviting arms of the rivers as an embrace for all park visitors. With its out-reaching forms and dramatic movement, this monumental stainless-steel sculpture will draw people together and serve as a catalyst for conversations about community and togetherness. Just as the flowing waters of your rivers have enveloped and nourished the bodies, minds, and spirits of the greater Fort Wayne community, so too will the Embrace of this timeless piece of art. The finished sculpture will weigh approximately 3,800 pounds and measure 19 feet high, 18 feet wide and 14 feet deep.

· Artist: Cary Shafer

Cary Shafer is a classically-trained stone carver whose breadth of work includes major architectural projects, private garden installations and freestanding abstract sculpture. Cary, a Fort Wayne resident, attended the Chicago Art Institute before completing four years of training with Italian master-carver Vincent Palumbo at Washington’s National Cathedral. Among the many ornamental stones, Cary carved the final gargoyle on the cathedral.

Sculpture: Bridges

Bridges is based on the concept of utilizing the corner of Harrison and Superior Streets to create an interactive sculpture. Two 20 x 20-foot boxes turned on end and tilted two degrees invite the viewer to enter and pass thru the iconic forms invoking a sense of walking on a bridge to both enter and exit the Promenade Park. Seen from both inside and out, the angled shapes create moving shadows as the sun passes through. The two steel structures are a deconstruction of a steel bridge evocative of the historic Wells Street bridge and form a large triangle, bordering the new park, with the Wells and Harrison Street bridges. Large in scale, not to be dwarfed by trees nor the neighboring architecture, the architectural sculpture anchors the corner and will be seen from every direction and from many distances. Bridges will be used as a gathering place because of its size, location and the four awnings that protect people from weather. The angled cubes are also in harmony with the new pavilion buildings. They are both architectural and sculptural and give the viewer a sense of passing through the art as opposed to walking past a sculpture. This concept relies on the historical relevance of the river and steel bridges that make Fort Wayne a viable and successful city. The sculpture will be recognizable for years to come and be an additional highlight to the skyline. Each of the two sculpture segments is approximately 35 feet tall, 20 feet wide and 42 feet deep.

“From its inception, our park design included multiple public art installations – the park entry sculpture the grandest among them all,” said Alec Johnson. “We envision this sculpture as an icon forever associated with Promenade Park, and we are confident we have five excellent proposals, any of which will complete that vision.”

“This sculpture will not only welcome visitors to Promenade Park, it will also provide free access to the arts for all people and highlight the importance of public art as we continue to create a vibrant downtown community,” said Ruth Stone. “Arts United is honored to work with the Parks & Recreation Department to ensure that the selection process represents best practices from across the country and results in an iconic sculpture that will represent Fort Wayne for decades to come.”

The selected sculpture will be announced in early August and is expected to be installed in Promenade Park in June 2018.