30' x 10' x 20'
bronze & stainless steel,
earth & stone
Siena Farm, Paris, Kentucky
108" x 115" x 85"
bronze & stainless steel
Edward "Duke" Ellington
9' x 9' x 20'
stainless steel & granite
Constructed of stainless and fabricated steel, Duke is a jazz harmony of the many elements of the man and his music. Just as jazz is built on a complex structure of chord progressions, modal tonalities, and improvisation, this sweeping public art is the expression of layered meaning and imagery.
In the sculptor’s own words: “Duke is seated on a treble clef . . . the entrance, if you will, to a musical score, just as this work is the gateway to a neighborhood. But it’s not just any G-clef. It is a replica of Duke Ellington’s own stylized rendering of this musical notation taken directly from his handwritten scores.”
A mature Duke in full possession of his immense talent sits at an abstract piano, its keys, themselves, becoming notes on the musical staff, jazz riffs, and syncopated rhythms.
“I have often sculpted smaller-scale figures dancing with abandon to music only they can hear. But with Duke, I set my sights on something different. I wanted to use solid materials to create the quality of sound one associates with this master of the jazz idiom. And, for me, it works. When I close my eyes, I can almost hear the echoes of Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady.”
For the residents of Shaw and, indeed, for all who see it, Duke is a symbol of so much. It is first a tribute to the legend, himself, but it is also a connection to the past, and as the symbol of a revitalized neighborhood, a hope for the future. Duke—where towering sculpture becomes soaring music.
144" x 96" x 216"
Northwest Indiana Times Newspaper
Inspiration is Zachary Oxman’s sculptural homage to another form of creative expression—the written word.
“Words have power. They persuade, inform, and convey the full range of human emotion.” In those few words, the artist describes the essence of this large-scale, complex work, which stands 18 feet high and weighs some 8,000 pounds.
Nearly a year in the making, Inspiration showcases three notions: the writer (the fedora-wearing, 1940s-era reporter deep in thought), his tools (a notepad and typewriter), and his craft (the written word unfurled in newsprint coming right off the presses). “There is a turning point in every commission that is nothing shy of exhilarating—when I’m able to put the cerebral part of creation behind me and embrace the bodily act of breathing life into my idea. I sometimes think about these first moments of physical creation even before I begin to sketch my ideas. It’s truly like lifting the drawing off the page.”
As with all sculpture on a monumental scale, that leap from page to dimensional space is fraught with engineering puzzles and challenges relating to structural integrity and the dynamics of public art in public spaces where severe weather can test even the best designs.
Those issues made tough stainless steel the perfect metal for Inspiration, even beyond aesthetic considerations. And there is another layer of meaning in Oxman’s material of choice: it was the steel industry that settled northwest Indiana.
That is the nature of art at its best. It holds up to repeated viewings, bringing something new to the relationship with the viewer, perhaps not with every glance, but every thoughtful moment shared with the artist’s creation.