News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 10, 2014

‘Turn to the River’ gets national acclaim

Art magazine features community project drawing attention to vitality of the Wabash

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The community’s efforts to reconnect with the Wabash River has received national — and international — attention.

Terre Haute along with nonprofit, Art Spaces Inc., were featured in the current issue of “Public Art Review,” a contemporary public art journal which, according to its website, has readers in 50 states and 20 countries.

The article, “Water Works — Nine Artist-Driven Projects That Are Transforming Watersheds — and Communities,” highlighted the community’s renewed commitment to the Wabash River.

More specifically, the article featured “Turn to the River,” a planning project launched by Art Spaces to connect Terre Haute’s downtown with the Wabash River. It also mentioned the community-wide 2013 Year of The River initiative.

The project was recognized alongside initiatives in places such as Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and even Germany.

“It’s really exciting,” Mary Kramer, executive director of Art Spaces, said of the recognition.      

“I’m really proud of Terre Haute and the work that’s going on here ... we as a city deserves this kind of recognition,” because of the “cutting edge” projects here, she said.

Photos shot by Tribune-Star Photographer Jim Avelis and Terre Haute resident Brendan Kearns ran alongside the short feature on Terre Haute’s project. One of the photos was Kearns’ aerial shot photo of the city highlighting the areas being studied through Turn to the River.

Launched in 2012, Turn to the River is a planning project to aiming to “study the ways in which public art and design can play a role in reconnecting with the river,” Kramer said.

People who have interest in the Wabash River and art/design — stakeholders, government officials, business owners and residents — have been invited to share their opinions for the project.

Three public meetings have been held, one of which included a walk from the downtown to the river along Wabash Avenue. Art Spaces is working with Terre Haute-based J3 Concepts to create the plan, a draft of which Kramer said will be presented to the public in March or April.

“So it’s really a community-driven plan. The ideas are coming out directly from the people in the community,” Kramer said.  

“In creating this plan Art Spaces is providing a framework through which public art and design may create lasting connectivity between the riverfront and the downtown district and contribute to the revitalization of both areas,” an Art Spaces release said.

Focus areas for the plan include the Wabash River, Fairbanks Park and the "government campus" which includes City Hall and the Vigo County Courthouse.

Turn to the River was awarded an “Our Town” grant by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2012. The City of Terre Haute is governmental partner for the project.

Additional funding support has been provided by the Terre Haute Department of Economic Redevelopment, Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a Terre Haute City Arts Grant, Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability and Ivy Tech Community College.