FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – You could call it ambitious or maybe, long overdue.
A major art installation arrives at Fort Wayne International Airport, designed by Napa Valley-based sculptor Gordon Huether.
Titled “Oculus”, the sculpture, made of steel, aluminum and glass, will wave goodbye and wave goodbye to travelers entering the check-in gates on the west side of the airport where major renovations are currently underway.
Four 18-foot-tall wings in the shape of airplane wings hold aloft a circular window or opening created from dichroic glass treated with various metal oxides. The result will be many “constantly changing” colors producing a “dazzling array of light and color,” seen through the oculus, according to concept information provided by the sculptor.
All four wings will feature laser-cut images of Indiana’s heartland – its state bird, the cardinal; state flower, the peony; the state tree, the tulip; and but. The cutouts are meant to cast shadows on the surrounding sidewalks day or night. Other additional artwork will include cutouts of the state of Indiana, trees and apples, the word “welcome” in many languages and music, Hinderman said.
Installation is expected to take place in the second quarter of next year and be included in the total cost of approximately $300,000, Scott Hinderman, executive director of Fort Wayne Airports.
Huether, who has numerous public and private commissions in his portfolio, has a large-scale work on display at Salt Lake City International Airport installed in 2013. Other public art installations can be seen in Chapel Hill, Austin , Houston, St. Petersburg, Florida, Glendale, Arizona, Germany and Japan. Huether came to the airport and toured Fort Wayne for inspiration.
One of his works of art is a massive aluminum yucca plant set up in the desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It lights up at night and was made from fuel tanks salvaged from F-16 military aircraft, according to Huether’s website.
Huether was chosen from a pool of 43 artists, some of them international, who expressed interest after a request for proposal was announced, Hinderman said. He set up a local committee of artists and art lovers to review the designs.
Rena Bradley, an FWAA board member who served on the art advisory committee, called Huether’s approach “smart. One of the things that appealed to me – it gave a visual nod to the airline industry,” she said. The airline’s wings were “smart, subtle and artistically done”.
The board tested the design on social media and received more than 200 combined likes on Facebook and Instagram, she said.
“The airport – when traveling to and from it is a major gateway into our community, sometimes the first and last thing (to see.) To have a work of art by a nationally recognized artist is a great way to make that first impression,” Bradley said.
Once Oculus is installed, it will create a sense of place and certainly directional. A circular concrete area currently exists just before a covered walkway to the airport check-in counters. At present, travelers departing during the day are treated to the sound of bustling construction. This will all come to an end as renovations on the west side are expected to be completed in the spring of 2023.
The airport sculpture follows the installation of a sculpture in 2018 at Promenade Park. ‘Convergence’, designed by Linda Howard of Florida, was chosen to represent the importance of the city’s three rivers.
“We made the decision to have this art sculpture exterior so it could be welcoming when people are coming from the parking lot or going from our terminal to the parking lot,” Hinderman said. There is another art gallery in the airport, but nothing of this magnitude.
“I hope people will have the opportunity to engage with art as they see it, when they arrive from the terminal building or from the terminal building to the parking lot. If they want to engage in it , they can kind of look at it and see how every fill in every wing reflects northeast Indiana.
This is yet another room where we can welcome people to Fort Wayne with an art sculpture, a little culture,” Hinderman said.