By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — The newest art installment in Warsaw – and what might be the crown jewel of the new Buffalo Street redevelopment project – has come to life on the shores of Center Lake.
Artist Osman Akan worked with three assistants last week to assemble the 14-foot tall metal and glass sculpture in the middle of the new Buffalo Street Plaza.
The artwork features 62 glass plates, each of which has a different makeup used to create various colors.
Akan is an award-winning artist known for his use of unusual materials and his large-scale installations. He has been working with light as a medium, especially with optical fibers, since 2004.
The plaza artwork represents the second installation in Indiana. The first one can be found outside the Indiana Statehouse (see the last photo at the end of this story).
The plaza sculpture uses dichroic glass that changes colors based on refraction and reflection.
“I like materials that change their appearance or quality, somehow,” Akan said while working at the site Friday.
The sculpture thrusts upward in a torqued, twisted fashion with glass panels affixed to metal rods.
While the artwork doesn’t carry any broad messages, Akan said he was asked to consider some kind of tribute to the orthopedic industry in the work when he was considering designs.
Cross pieces in the sculpture represent the pins doctors implant into the body to add strength and stability.
“When they put pins into the bones, I guess the doctors are not into that aesthetics as much,” Akan said with a laugh. “So I mimicked that.”
Warsaw Public Arts Commission chose Akan for the project, which is the latest in a series of public art taking shape in Warsaw.
City Planner Justin Taylor said the arts commission liked his use of colors.
“His sculptures in general, have a light quality. They don’t seem too heavy or industrial, but the glass he chooses has an iridescent quality where it catches the light,”
“It’s a very active sculpture. Even though it doesn’t move, it has a very active quality,” Taylor said.
Taylor, along with Mayor Joe Thallemer and Community Development Director Jeremy Skinner, toured the plaza Friday morning as the sculpture was being assembled.
A desire to expand the downtown to Center Lake – just a few blocks away – has been kicked around for nearly 20 years.
A 2002 Hyett Palma study suggested expanding the downtown to the lakefront, and the city has slowly been moving in that direction via the Buffalo Street redevelopment project which includes new housing along North Buffalo and a future multi-purpose building adjacent to the plaza.
Years ago, a Ball State University Charrette proposed including something on the lake to attract people to the park, such as a lighthouse.
“This is our beacon,” Thallemer said.
“I’d call it the exclamation point on the project,” Thallemer said.
Funding for much of the plaza project came through the state’s Regional Cities program and work started in earnest in 2016.
Work on the plaza came together slowly, for various reasons, but is now 90% complete. Still to be finished are a pavilion and fountain and a handrail for the edge of the plaza overlooking the lake.