Peter Shelton's sculptures for downtown's Central Library, thinmanlittlebird, have been selected as one of the past year's outstanding works of public art by Americans for the Arts.
"2010 Public Art Year in Review" recognized 40 of the year's top public art works in the United States and Canada and included projects from 29 cities in 15 states and provinces. The works were chosen by artists Helen Lessick and Fred Wilson from among 300 entries. Shelton's sculptures were the only pieces chosen from Indiana. By way of contrast, seven pieces were located in Texas; six each were in New York and Washington states.
This recognition rewards the wisdom of the IMCPL Foundation, arts patrons Ann and Chris Stack and IMA director emeritus Bret Waller for having the vision and fortitude to choose an artist of Shelton's stature for this important project — and then seeing it through to realization.
thinmanlittlebird may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's part of what's great about it. Shelton's work is authoritative in its conception, scale, sense of place and execution. It doesn't merely fit in, but complements its site, creating a provocative visual connection between the library's original, neo-classical building and its contemporary addition by Evans Woollen.
In a city known for its aversion to aesthetic risk, the commissioning of thinmanlittlebird demonstrates that some risks are smarter than others; it's people who know what they're doing that make the difference.