News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 15, 2014

Artist picked for Paul Dresser sculpture

Will honor composer of Indiana’s state song

TERRE HAUTE — Art Spaces, a group that promotes outdoor art in the community, has selected Teresa Clark of Terre Haute to create a sculpture honoring songwriter Paul Dresser.

The sculpture will be in Fairbanks Park, west of the Paul Dresser House. The goal is for installation to occur in June. Mary Kramer, director of Art Spaces, made the announcement during a meeting of the Terre Haute Parks Board on Wednesday.

The board approved a contract with Art Spaces that allows the project to move forward; once the sculpture is installed, it will be owned and maintained by city parks under guidelines provided by the artist, Kramer said.

The sculpture will honor Dresser, a Terre Haute native, and his famous song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” which is Indiana’s state song.

“We’ve been working with you for a couple of years now on planning for this project,” Kramer told parks board members. She thanked them for their patience and enthusiasm.

The cost of the sculpture project, including  foundation, engineering and related costs, is about $80,000, and Art Spaces has worked to raise funds for it.

There is no financial obligation on the part of the parks board, Kramer said.

The area also will be landscaped and include pathways to make it more of a “destination,” she said. Art Spaces is working on a design, and landscaping may take place over a longer period of time.

Clark is well-known for her sculptures of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. She also is working on a 20-foot sculpture of Pope John Paul II that will be located in Chicago.

The Dresser sculpture will be bronze on stone; the bronze sculpture will be about 61⁄2 feet high, and the base about 21⁄2 feet.

It depicts Dresser and musical lines from the song; from a distance, people will see a cutout of the river in the middle, which Clark says provides a “moment of inspiration.”

The sculpture has a “flowing feel to it,” Kramer said. Clark showed the board a small model, and work will now begin on a larger model. Kramer anticipated the project would go to a foundry around April.

“It’s beautiful,” said parks board member Nancy Cummins.

An Art Space selection committee used a search process in choosing an artist and received 54 submissions from 23 states.

n In other matters, the parks board briefly discussed a proposed lease agreement with the Vigo County School Corp., which wants to construct a $9.8 million aquatic center at Voorhees Park.

Eddie Bird, parks superintendent, said he received the proposed lease agreement Monday, and that the city’s legal department needs more time to review it.

The proposed agreement calls for a 99-year lease for $1; the school district would maintain the facility and property that it leases, including an entrance, boulevard and parking lots, while the city parks would maintain the rest of the park.

The district would lease about eight acres of the 11-acre park.

City attorney Chou-il Lee said he wants the lease to cover some potential long-term issues, such as what happens to the facility if the school district at some point no longer wanted to operate a pool.

The parties agreed that if such a scenario ever occurred, the aquatics facility would revert to the parks department — something that will be included in the lease.

If the contract can be finalized over the next few days, the parks board may conduct a special meeting next week to approve the lease agreement, Bird said. “We want to make sure wording is correct … and to make sure the parks department and city [are] covered in this agreement.”

Likewise, the school district wants the same, he said.

Superintendent Dan Tanoos told the board the district wants to move forward as soon as possible. “We’re pretty much ready to get things rolling,” with a groundbreaking in June. The goal is for the facility to open in August 2015.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or

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