Text and photos by David Hazledine
WARSAW — Cold winds and sporadic drizzle failed to deter a group of community well-wishers and arts enthusiasts from attending the naming ceremony for a new sculpture in Warsaw’s City Hall Lot, Monday, Oct. 19. Speakers included Mayor Joe Thallemer, Suzie Light of Warsaw Public Arts Commission, the artist John Mishler and Ot Schroeder, Warsaw Morning Optimist Club.
The sculpture, now officially titled “Lifting Up,” was created by Mishler and dedicated to the memory of Mary Ellen Rudisel-Jordan, the architect and designer of Warsaw City Hall, who died in 2013. A donor recognition event originally planned for May was canceled due to COVID-19.
During her opening remarks, Light stated the Public Arts Commission’s mission is to “develop Warsaw as an engaging place to live, work and play through increasing awareness of arts for all ages … Our goal is to create a virtual art trail, one that engages community members in an appreciation of art throughout Warsaw.”
Light thanked “the many donors who made generous contributions in memory of Mary Ellen toward this wonderful sculpture by John Mishler.” Those included Rita Schobert, Esther Pfleiderer Charitable Trust at 1st Source Bank, Jay Maish, Warsaw Morning Optimists, Warsaw Octagon Club, The ArtFULLY Warsaw Fund and “many anonymous donors.”
Rudisel-Jordan’s “vision for how a vacant bank building — an important anchor building in downtown Warsaw — could be transformed to serve as Warsaw’s City Hall is especially noteworthy,” said Light.
Rudisel-Jordan created a “great city hall that will be here for many, many years,” added Thallemer during his remarks. “Mary Ellen had a lot to say about everything…she was a joy to work with.”
“It’s sure moving now,” commented Mishler as he observed the upper sections of the sculpture revolving in the wind, part of a form designed, he said, to “make you want to look up.”
The work was partially inspired by the “shapes architects use when they draw,” as well as by Rudisel-Jordan’s “spirit, her movement,” he said.
Mishler went on to say the process of making a sculpture dedicated to an individual is a “spiritual thing, connecting with that person.”
“Lifting Up” is located at the northeast corner of the City Hall parking lot in downtown Warsaw, 102 S. Buffalo St.