Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 16, 2012

Sculptures on display at Tipton library

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

Tipton — Scattered among the stacks of books is an array of unique sculptures.

There’s 24 of them to be exact. Crafted from bronze, the sculptures at the Tipton County Public Library are part of the traveling Sculptureworks Library Exhibit.

Patrons have the opportunity to not only look at the artwork but to also buy.

Kendra Hummel, head of adult programming, said four pieces have been purchased and will be replaced.

Texas-based Sculptureworks brought the exhibit to Tipton, at no cost to the library.

“I saw a display at the Carmel library about a year ago,” said Hummel, who then contacted the company about coming to Tipton.

Hummel said a Sculptureworks representative visited the library and deemed it a good venue.

“Everybody loves it,” she said of the artwork. “It brings a different energy level to the library.”

Hummel said one of patrons’ favorite sculptures is a seated woman reading a book. It’s near the front entrance with a sign inviting children to sit on her lap.

“The kids talk to her and tell her stories,” she said.

Hummel said the sculptures range in price from $475 to $19,000.

Her personal favorite is “Thirst for Knowledge,” which depicts a giraffe extending its front legs so it can read a book.

Sarren McLeodis has been enjoying the display.

“I like the feel of it,” she said. “It brings education and art to the library.”

Betty Wines concurs.

“It brings a nice touch to the library,” she said. “I don’t have a particular favorite.”

The traveling exhibit project was started in 1997 by Dave Wiegand, who had the idea after visiting a park in Texas.

That led to the Bedford, Texas, library wanting to display one of the sculptures, “Need to Know.”

That sculpture showed a boy lying with his dog and reading a book.

Wiegand said the Bedford library started collecting coins from patrons. In 18 months, they raised the $25,000 needed to purchase the sculpture. He said other libraries have procured funds in a similar manner to purchase the artwork for permanent display.

“I believed that libraries are the cultural centers of every city in America,” he said. “I decided to set up the exhibit and market in libraries.”

Wiegand said there are 1,347 sculptures in the inventory and exhibits have taken place in Oregon, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana. The Tipton exhibit will be moved to Colorado in June.

• Ken de la Bastide is the Kokomo Tribune enterprise editor. He can be reached at 765-454-8580 or via e-mail at ken.delabastide@ kokomotribune.com