Art Displays to Enjoy Year-Round

by Kathy Schwartz

Most people have a dream. Very few get to see a dream become reality, and fewer see the realized dream grow.

Greg Mendez grew up in Decatur, Indiana. He is a nationally-known sculptor. While participating in the internationally known Sioux Falls South Dakota Sculpture Tour, he was inspired and said to himself, “I would love to see this happen in Indiana.” Little did he realize it would happen in his hometown.

“I call it the ‘power of small,’” says Trois Hart, Chairman of Communications for the Decatur Sculpture Tour. “A small community can get a mayor in the same room as the executive director of the foundation, the head of the library, the city works department, the art council, and supporters, and make things happen.

“You can look to your left. They nod their head, and they make it happen.” Trois continues, “We got it done in short order that first year. It has grown every year.”

Decatur Sculpture Tour began in 2011 when a group of people met and banded together to work towards a goal to get artists from around the country to bring their creations to Decatur, Indiana.

“We have a natural connection to sculpture” Trois says. “David Smith, preeminent industrial sculptor, was born in Decatur. Dave is the guy you study in art school. He created the sculpture that says LOVE.” Trois adds, “The Decatur Porter family has a relative, Ralph Hurst, who is also a very prolific sculptor.”

Ralph Hurst has two pieces displayed in Decatur presently, one at the library and one at the historical museum. Current local artists include Greg Mendez and Taylor Andrews. All of these are natives of Decatur. So, Decatur is a natural to have a tour.

“The tour has created a wonderful conversation in our community about art,” says Trois. “We’ve had so many businesses support us, and they took a chance on us the first year.”

On June 8, the sculptures for the 2017-2018 display will be put in place, and on June 9, they will be unveiled at the opening ceremonies of the sixth Decatur Sculpture Tour. The sculptures remain in place until the end of April 2018.

This year’s tour includes 24 sculptures–19 outside and 5 indoor. Twenty-two artists, (two entries are collaborations by two artists) from 8 different states will participate.

Artists compete for a spot on the tour. “The jurying process has evolved over the years.  From the beginning, the purpose has been to find something for everyone,” explains Trois. “You can’t meet everyone’s taste, certainly, but we have mixed traditional with abstract and fantasy.

“We get more and more interest each year. We have wanted to expand, but we are getting to the point where we want to make sure we don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

“When you have an outdoor sculpture event, you can participate in art in public forum. It is completely accessible. It does not have four walls around it. Anybody and everybody can walk up and engage in art and the message that particular sculptor is intending to send, but certainly each of us receive it in our own unique way.”

Where the sculptures are placed is determined by the committee.

“That’s a dance because we have to make sure that number one, they don’t interfere with the roadway,” Trois says with a smile. “There are at least 10 considerations that go into where the sculptures are placed. It’s a story when you take the tour. It has to make for an interesting story.”

Funding comes from sponsors. “We go out to get sponsors for individual sculptures. We also get money from the Adams County Community Foundation, Arts Council of Indiana, Arts United, and a tourism grant.

“We are to a point of maximum capacity,” worries Trois, “unless there is some major sponsor that will want to come in and for a long period of time would annually guarantee the financial commitment–because to go much larger, we will need to hire someone to manage the process. We’re maxed out on a volunteer capacity.”

The people involved are strictly volunteers fueled by a passion for art and community service. “It’s just tremendous the amount of work that they put in,” marvels Trois.

The committee also provides an avenue for the sale of the sculptors’ creations. “One of our goals is to not just create sculptures for here, but to help them to sell their pieces so that they will want to come back. It will strengthen the tour.”

The committee has seen this happen. They also try to purchase one sculpture per year for the city of Decatur. Art aficionados can view prices on the tour’s website.

According to Trois the future holds exciting possibilities for Decatur Sculpture Tour. The committee is exploring the use of apps that will give tour participants access to comments by the artist as the piece is being viewed. It is hoped that the annual unveiling will expand from a one-day event to two days. Also, there is hope that a special section for youth contributions would be established.

“We have laid a really rock-solid foundation. We need people coming together to help. It is the community infrastructure that enables or prevents something like this.”

To learn more about the Decatur Sculpture Tour unveiling activities planned for June 9, or to read about individual artists and their sculptures, visit the tour’s website.

Come and enjoy the Decatur Sculpture Tour. Some dreams do come true.

Decatur Sculpture Tour
Decatur, IN

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