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7/10/2018 10:17:00 AM
Jeffersonville moves along with downtown arts district

Brooke McAfee, News and Tribune

JEFFERSONVILLE — If you've driven down Spring Street lately, you can't miss the bright colors bursting forth from the city's new downtown arts corridor.

The water tank on Michigan Avenue, located at the center of the new Jeffersonville Arts & Cultural District, is close to completion. The mural, covered in eyes gazing out from a vibrant background, will be the focal point of the area, Public Art Administrator Dawn Spyker said Monday.

“A lot of people have different opinions about it, but I think it adds something to an area that was blighted and without color,” she said. “It shows our innovative nature and how whimsical and fun our city is becoming.” 

The Jeffersonville Public Art Commission discussed updates to the Arts & Cultural District at Monday's meeting. The downtown area is located between Michigan and Court avenues and Spring Street.

Local artist Wilfred Sieg III, who started painting the unused water tank last fall, plans to finish his work within a week.

Public Art Commission member John McCarthy said he thinks the mural is delightful. He particularly appreciates the complexity of the work.

“I think that the design alludes to aspects of nature, whether it's fish or whether it's birds or air atmosphere or water atmosphere,” he said. “It's a sort of interesting mix of the elements of the Earth.”

A building outside the water tank will become a small shop featuring work from local artisans, according to Spyker. The commission hopes to transform the 22-acre area into a space with galleries, artist studios, small shops and a performance venue.

"Our arts and cultural district is rather small, but it's very intimate," Spyker said.

The city's triangle lot at the Vintage Fire Museum also is moving along. Base colors have been painted on the parking lot, and the details should be painted by the end of July, Spyker said. It will be a public space with art installations, including games such as checkers. 

Another upcoming art installation called “Picasso on a Pole” will be placed on light poles around the triangle lot. The project features abstract faces designed and created by 13 fifth-graders from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. The works will be installed July 16-18.

A celebration of the progress is in the works, possibly by the end of August. While the commission usually has ribbon cuttings for the opening of individual art pieces, Spyker said they want to have a bigger event for the arts and cultural district.

"Our hope is that we can have everyone down in one spot around the same time and have food and music and make more of a day of it," she said.

Another project the commission is working on is the creation of an illuminated path from Big Four Station to the arts district. Projections will throw designs onto the paths. It will probably be a fall or winter project, Spyker said.

Public Art Commission Chair Nathan Samuel said the district is a major revitalization project for Jeffersonville.

"If you go to any major city or wherever where they have an arts center, it usually starts in some old building, and then the artists themselves make it look really nice and funky looking, and it kind of radiates to the whole area," he said. "It's already kind of radiating down here."

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