FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — You might call it aspirational or maybe, long overdue.
A major art installation is coming to the Fort Wayne International Airport, designed by Napa Valley-based sculptor Gordon Huether.
Entitled “Oculus,” the sculpture, made from steel, aluminum and glass, will greet and say goodbye to travelers entering the check-in gates on the west side of the airport where major renovations are currently taking place.
Four 18-foot high wings shaped to look like the wings on an airplane hold aloft a circular window or opening created from dichroic glass treated with various metal oxides. The result will be many colors “constantly evolving” producing a “dazzling array of light and color,” as viewed through the oculus, according to concept information furnished by the sculptor.
The four wings will feature laser cut images central to Indiana – its state bird, the cardinal; state flower, the peony; the state tree, tulip; and corn. The cutouts are intended to cast shadows on surrounding sidewalks day and night. Other infill art will include cutouts of the state of Indiana, trees and apples, the word ‘welcome’ in many languages and music, Hinderman said.
The installation should take place in the second quarter of next year and be included in the total cost of about $300,000, Scott Hinderman, executive director of Fort Wayne Airports.
Huether, who has many public and private commissions in his portfolio, has a large scale work on display at the 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 visited Fort Wayne as a way to gain inspiration.
One of his art works is an enormous aluminum yucca plant installed in the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It lights up at night and was made from salvaged fuel tanks from F-16 military aircraft, according to Huether’s website.
Huether was chosen from a pool of 43 artists, some international, who indicated interest after a request for proposal was advertised, Hinderman said. He put together a local committee of artists and art-minded people to review the designs.
Rena Bradley, a FWAA board member who served on the art advisory committee, called Huether’s approach “clever. One of the things that appealed to me – it did give a visual nod to the airline industry,” she said. The airline wings were “clever, subtle and artistically done.”
The board tried out the design on social media and received more than 200 combined “likes” on Facebook and Instagram, she said.
“The airport – when you’re traveling to and from, it’s a major gateway into our community, sometimes the first and last thing (to see.) Having a piece of artwork done by a nationally renowned artist is an excellent 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 passageway into the airport check-in desks. Right now, travelers departing during the day are treated to the sounds of bustling construction. That will all come to an end as the renovations on the west end are scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2023.
The airport sculpture follows the 2018 installation of one at Promenade Park. “Convergence,” designed by Linda Howard, from Florida, was chosen to represent the importance of the city’s three rivers.
“We made the decision to make that art sculpture be exterior so it can be welcoming as people come in from the parking or go from our terminal building to the parking,” Hinderman said. There is another art gallery in the airport, but nothing of this magnitude.
“I hope people have an opportunity to engage with the art as they look at it, as they come in from the terminal building or from the terminal to parking. If they want to engage in it, they can kind of look at it and see how each infill of each wing reflects northeast Indiana.
It’s yet another piece where we can welcome people to Fort Wayne with an art sculpture, a little bit of culture,” Hinderman said.