After the careful consideration of seven proposals from artists with exhibits worldwide, the Sculpture Selection Committee has chosen Blue River- Wind, Rain, and Water by the artist Mike Helbing to be permanently placed near the historic Porter Visitors Center near the entrance to Downtown Shelbyville. The sculpture will be installed by November 2018.
“We asked the artists to incorporate the newly constructed Blue River Recreational Trail at the site, along with the Blue River crossing and importance as a gateway to the City into their proposals for the sculpture. The river has shaped the development of our community, and is an asset that we want this art to celebrate. The sculpture should be something that encourages people to get out of their cars and experience the art, the trail, and newly designated Riverfront Development District,” explained Mayor Tom DeBaun.
In fact, trail users will be able to walk through the sculpture as they follow the trail. Artist Mike Helbing describes his proposal as inspired by the theatrical thunderstorms in Indiana that give life to the river. The sculpture represents a thundercloud, rain, and the river basin of the Big Blue and Little Blue Rivers, which converge nearby. Trail users will follow the trail through the “rains” of the sculpture. Helbing knows this landscape well; although he now resides and makes a living as a sculptor in Chicago, he spent his childhood in Shelbyville. The completed sculpture will be created from stainless steel and be approximately forty feet in height. More information about Mr. Helbing and his sculptures may be found at www.helbingstudio.com.
The proposals were evaluated by a fifteen-member selection committee that included the Blue River Community Foundation, which contributed over $50,000 to the project; City officials and planners, who provided $50,000; Shelby County Tourism, contributing $25,000; the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce; Mainstreet Shelbyville, Inc; Shelby Arts Alliance; and nearby business owners. Private donations complete the $150,000 budget. The seven proposals have been on public display at City hall since February 1st. The criteria included artistic and aesthetic properties; the context of the site and how the art incorporated the themes of the river and trail; maintenance and sustainability.
“This is the first, and sets a very high standard for our public art efforts,” said Amy Haacker, Executive Director of the Blue River Community Foundation, referring to the recently adopted Public Art Plan, which identifies several goals and future projects related to public art, community development, and opportunities for collaboration. The Public Art Plan may be found at http://www.cityofshelbyvillein.com/departments/planning-building/planning-documents/.