The Northwest Territory Art Guild is one step closer to realizing its goal of installing a public sculpture exhibit in Vincennes thanks in part to a recent $5,000 Local Impact Grant from Duke Energy.

The funding builds on community donations and an initial $5,000 grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, positioning the group about halfway to its funding goal.

The Northwest Territory Art Guild, a local non-profit arts organization located at 316 Main St., designated Amy DeLap and Andrew Jendrzejewski, both retired Vincennes University art professors, to lead the local sculpture project.

“We’re hoping for large pieces that will be very impressive to try to develop what we call the First City Public Sculpture Exhibition,” Jendrezejewski said.

DeLap and Jendrezejewski put out a national call to artists for large sculpted works to be placed at as-yet-to-be-determined sites around town. And they’re pleased with the proposals submitted thus far.

Using a high traffic online arts platform to reach artists across the nation, DeLap said they have received sculpture proposals from artists living as far away as New Jersey and Colorado, and more are expected in the coming days as the Aug. 14 deadline for submissions fast approaches.

With no indication of when the city’s First Friday Art Walks may resume amid the continued spread of COVID-19, Jendrezejewski sees the outdoor public art as filling a vital need in the community.

“First Fridays still have not come back, and we don’t know when they will. This would be a good option for people to have an art experience more safely,” he said.

Without the help and guidance of gallery curators to discuss the new pieces with art patrons, the pair are looking to alternative ways people can more fully engage with the art when it’s installed later this year.

One option, DeLap said, are the phone dial-in services commonly seen and used at historic sites, museums and other tourist attractions.

“In thinking about how we can communicate with people and help them engage with the sculptures without meeting with a group in-person, the dial—in option looks promising,” said DeLap.

She added that it could even be a way to hear the artists talk about their own work.

“But we’re just starting to investigate that option,” DeLap added.

After the deadline for submissions passes later this month, a two-part jury process will begin to determine which sculptures will be selected for installation.

Each installed sculpture would be on loan from the artist for a three-year period, but with an option for a business or individual to buy the artwork and therefore have it permanently installed in Vincennes.

This idea is something the gallery owners say they see happening in cities across the United States, and in the relatively nearby Indiana towns of Columbus and Jeffersonville.

“They’re kind of the model communities,” said DeLap, in regards to the burgeoning public art spaces.

As COVID-19 continues to hinder all facets of arts and entertainment, public outdoor art can provide a unique opportunity and add to the value of the city as a tourist attraction.

“It really is a great substitute for the art walks, and we feel it will be a contemporary attraction to tourists,” said Jendrezejewski.

The pair say it’s in part due to the collaboration with all four Vincennes gallery owners and curators that this ambitious project will soon come to fruition.

“Andy and I are used to working independently, but having their input and using this committee process has enlarged the possibilities and the range of what we can do,” said DeLap.

In the coming weeks the committee will make the final selections and then meet with Mayor Yochum and Steve Beaman, superintendent of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, to finalize public locations for installation of the art work.
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