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Columbus Area Arts Council and Columbus Museum of Art and Design Commission Sculpture from Local Artist

Columbus Area Arts Council and Columbus Museum of Art and Design (CMAD) are pleased to announce the commission of a sculpture by local artist Martin Beach. Carved from granite and limestone, Modern Totem will become part of Columbus’ permanent collection of public art and be installed in spring 2014.

The sculpture will be purchased with funds raised in 2012 and 2013 during the Fund-A-Need portion of the live auction at unCommon Cause, Columbus Area Arts Council’s annual fundraiser.  “We are delighted with the overwhelming support of this joint project with Columbus Museum of Art and Design,” said Karen Shrode, executive director of Columbus Area Arts Council. “We see there is a desire on the part of the community to make this commission a reality and support public art within the Columbus Arts District,” added Shrode.

Modern Totem, which will stand at 9’2” tall and weigh nearly 8,000 pounds, will sit in an allée of trees in an outdoor courtyard being constructed as a connector between the Columbus Area Visitors Center and the newly renovated Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza. The plans for the renovation show bench seating within the courtyard, offering visitors to the area a peaceful, communal gathering place.

When complete, the piece will be an obelisk form consisting of two stacked, black granite stones, creating a modern and minimal interpretation of a totem, an ancient symbol of community, gathering, and family. “At the same time, I am implying that extension of the vertical infinite, creating an upward swirl of motion that forms a fluctuating visual energy,” said Beach. “My hope is the sculpture is not interpreted as a static and stoic form, but one that is very much alive,” added Beach.

This piece will be different than a majority of Beach’s previous work. “I am accustomed to working on a scale where I can humanly lift the stone. This piece will weigh nearly three and a half tons, so the design and manipulation of the materials will be rather different,” noted Beach. His past work has also been more horizontal in form. However, Beach is certain working with a vertical form will offer him good challenges in the sculpting process and how he sees forms within stone.

Beach, an emerging artist, moved to Columbus, IN, in 2010 upon graduating from The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA). Modern Totem will be Beach’s first commission. “I am both humbled and honored that I will have a permanent sculpture in Columbus,” said Beach. “I have come to regard [Columbus] as home and it will be exciting to create something that will be part of the unique designs and modern architecture Columbus is known for,” added Beach.

Beach’s work has been exhibited in group shows at Jacksson Contemporary Gallery (2012, Columbus, IN) and at the John Waldron Center for the Arts (2012, Bloomington, IN). Beach had a solo exhibit in 2012–13 at the Columbus (IN) Learning Center. His work has recently been featured in a five page story in Sculpture NorthWest, a journal published by the NorthWest Stone Sculptors Association in Seattle, WA. Beach will have his work displayed at the Waldron in February 2014. Beach has apprenticed with Dale Enochs from Bloomington, IN and is considered by many to be a rising star in the world of stone sculpture.

The installation of Modern Totem will serve as a kick off for the Columbus Indiana Sculpture Biennial. In April 2013, Columbus Area Arts Council was awarded the Efroymson Award for Excellence in Cultural Tourism for the development of the Columbus Indiana Sculpture Biennial.

The $25,000 award will allow the Arts Council to bring a collection of eight to ten large-scale sculptures to Columbus to further immerse observers in a dynamic physical experience with public art. Beginning in 2014, the rotation of temporary works on a two-year basis will encourage repeated visits by tourists and will help ensure continued engagement and dialogue within the local community. The call for artists can be accessed online <>.