ANGOLA, IND. (WPTA21)-Angola, Indiana’s public square has been the heart of this town since it was founded and for the last hundred years has been home to a magnificent monument honoring Steuben County’s Civil War veterans, capped off with the figure of Columbia, the symbol for peace. This year, however, Columbia has had to move over to make room for some newcomers.
Visitors to downtown will now find some remarkable art work sprinkled among the shops and sidewalks, part of a public arts project called ‘Scuptures Angola’…four works of art chosen from 29 entries from artists in twelve states. Decatur sculptor Greg Mendez created this beautiful expression of unbridled joy called ‘All Under Heaven’, a young woman arching her body toward the sky with support from a friend. Greg’s brother Alex Mendez contributed this piece called ‘Whole Hearted’ through which the viewer can focus on things he or she loves about downtown. The most impressive work though has to be this, an immense fish lurching out of the water in quest of a tasty dragonfly. We visited the artist who made it, Greg Summers, earlier this week in his Fremont studio.
“It’s big,” he says. “It’s totally made out of recyclable materials and that’s always kind of been my forte is re-purposing.”
‘Sculptures Angola’ is one of many public art projects now part of daily life in local towns like Decatur and Auburn and Kendallville and Portland. Besides being nice to look at folks in 21 Country have discovered that public art brings visitors and dollars to any downtown that exhibits it. Angola’s sculptures are the latest in a series of improvements designed to draw visitors, the town has spent a small fortune on flower gardens, decorative plantings and brick lined courtyards to make visiting, and shopping in, downtown more attractive. The veterans monument set the example for statues that followed. But as the old monument honors those who witnessed unbridled violence and suffering, Angola’s newest artworks celebrate peace and mankind’s passionate thirst for life. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.