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Modern Totem Installation and Dedication Set

Columbus, IN. Columbus Area Arts Council and Columbus Museum of Art and Design (CMAD) are pleased to announce Martin Beach’s Modern Totem, Columbus’ newest piece of permanent public art, will be installed on Friday, June 20. Installation will be aided by Taylor Brothers Construction.

The public is invited to attend the dedication at 6:30 PM on Friday, June 27 at its installation site between the Columbus Area Visitors Center and Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, located at 536 Fifth Street, Columbus, IN. The dedication precedes Live on the Plaza featuring Black Violin, which begins at 7:00 PM on the library plaza.

Although CMAD has commissioned artwork in the past, most recently a public art project with Boston-based Mark Cooper, this is the first commission of the Arts Council. “We couldn’t be happier that we were able to support such a talented artist at the beginning of his career with our first commission,” said Karen Shrode, executive director of Columbus Area Arts Council.

“We are fortunate to live in a community that sees the value of public art. The Arts Council is happy that we [and CMAD] are able to increase both the inventory and level of conversation about public art with the installation of Modern Totem,” said Shrode. Noting that communities gain economic, cultural, and social value through public art, Shrode said, “This piece, along with other pieces in Columbus, will act as a place maker and provide residents and visitors on-going interactions with public art.”

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, Mesabi 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.

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.

The sculpture was commissioned 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. The Fund-A-Need called for a joint public art project between the Arts Council and CMAD.

The Columbus Area Arts Council is a public, not-for-profit corporation supported by private donations, the City of Columbus, the State of Indiana through the Indiana Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.