New 'Metavine' sculpture for Fort Wayne Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory moving forward
New 'Metavine' sculpture for Fort Wayne Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory moving forward
Fort Wayne sculptor Cary Shafer, who worked on the Washington National Cathedral, is now going to work with engineers to finalize his "Metavine" sculpture that is expected to become a landmark for people coming to downtown.

The Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners heard plans to spend $99,900, much of it from a Journal Gazette Foundation donation, to build the metal structure.

The idea for "Metavine" originated eight years ago when the conservatory's LED sign was installed, but no money was available for the artwork, Alec Johnson, deputy director of planning and development, told the commissioners during their Oct. 10 meeting at Citizens Square. The sculpture was meant to spring from the ground, arch over the entrance, and reach toward the roof of the conservatory at the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Calhoun Street.

Asked if the piece will be lighted, Shafer said he can install LED lights in the tips and believes uplighting should be added.

Earlier this year, the parks department held a call to artists for designs, which had to take into account the bolt plate pattern already installed with the LED sign and incorporate an arching element, Johnson said.

Of the five artists invited to submit proposals, two were local and three were national. A selection committee chose Shafer's idea.

"It's a stroke across the sky," Shaker described it to the commissioners. "The idea is that it's a little bit anthropomorphic, that each of those chandelier tips have a personality. And as you walk in or out the building, you'll be greeted by one of those looking down upon you."

The stem rising from a 24-inch base to arch forward with numerous 2-inch stems with round floral-motif discs. It will be 37-40 feet tall and 55 feet long. Through the use of negative space, it fills the area but doesn't block views, Shafer said.

Much of the money will go to M&S Steel in Garrett to fabricate the steel, because the piece is too large for his studio, he said.

The next step, Shafer said, is for him to work with Engineering Resources, Inc. Engineers to determine the thickness of the steel and method welding to create the final design of the piece.

"I've always liked having people react to pieces. I believe that as people come and go, that will be something automatic ... they'll look at this thing that's looking down upon them."
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