Board Discusses Fourth, Final Scupture

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Board discusses fourth, final sculpture

Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 6:00 am

Murphey Park, at the corner of Grand Avenue and 15th Street, will see the addition of a few more metal sculptures in the near future.

The park and metal sculptures serve as the southern anchors of the Robert Indiana Arts and Culture District, the establishment of which is being led by New Castle Main Street Executive Director Carrie Barrett. 

As part of the ongoing effort to revitalize downtown New Castle, the Main Street organization is creating an area that will eventually include various art and education components, rain gardens, youth sculptures, art pads and other enhancements if all goes as planned. The district includes the Arts Park, the Artisan’s Annex and Art Association of Henry County building, New Castle-Henry County Public Library, Murphey Park adjacent to the old armory and the Henry County Historical Society Museum.

The City of New Castle received a $24,500 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to help pay for the creation of the Robert Indiana Arts & Culture District and some of those funds are to be used specifically for the creation of a metal sculptures “garden” that pays tribute to Robert Indiana.

The first sculpture, an eight-foot tall replica of Indiana’s iconic LOVE print, has already been placed at the point of the 15th Street and Grand Avenue. The plan is to place another Indiana creation that spells out ART, which Barrett said is nearing completion. Those pieces will eventually be joined by a metal sculpture spelling out MURPHEY PARK. The fourth piece Barrett originally envisioned was a reproduction of Indiana’s HOME; however, she recently approached the New Castle Parks Board and indicated she no longer thinks HOME is what the sculpture garden needs.

Instead, she proposed large numbers that mimic Indiana’s style. She suggested to the board the numbers 1822 be used, noting that is the year many sources indicate New Castle was originally settled. Barrett said the numbers would each be 4 feet tall and suggested they be stacked to form a 16-foot tall obelisk similar to the one at the Indiana Museum of Art. Barrett asked the board for their thoughts regarding the use of 1822 and stacking them as she suggested.

Mayor Greg York expressed concern that passers-by might think 1822 was the park’s address or otherwise not understand what they represent. He also expressed concern about children climbing on the sculptures, noting a fall from 16 feet could result in serious injuries. Board member Sandy Scott suggested a small plaque be placed at the base of each of the metal creations explaining what they are and their significance, which she said would help reduce any confusion that might exist among visitors. Barrett said Scott’s suggestion has already been considered and is part of the plan.

Board member David Nantz said the height would be less of a worry if each of the letters was scaled down from 4 feet to 3 or even 2 feet tall each. He also suggested adding “est.” (short for established) to help reduce confusion about what the numbers represent.

Much discussion ensued. Barrett eventually said she wasn’t sold on using 1822 and asked the board for their thoughts.

“I’m not tied to 1822,” she said. “We can do something else if that’s what the board wants to do.”

The mayor suggested researching the year the Murphey family donated the land to the city that is now known as Murphey Park and using those numbers, rather than 1822, with a plaque explaining what the numbers represent.

Lynn Perdue, an audience member who also serves on the city council, voiced his support for stacking whatever numbers are used because having an obelisk-type structure in the sculpture garden makes more of a statement than a sculpture with less height.

“We can always worry about a worse case scenario, but I really don’t think that (children climbing on it) will be a problem,” he said.

It was eventually decided Barrett should research various options and come back before the board in April with a recommendation on what the fourth and final large metal sculpture should be.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building, 227 N. Main St. The meetings are open to all interested persons.