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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
“Confluence” at Freimann Square hints at a wave of practical public art coming to the city next year.

Bike racks can be art, too, city to discover

Fort Wayne is set to receive a minor facelift next year.

That’s when 50 sculptural bike racks will pop up throughout the city, public art displays that not only will be functional but will be in celebration of IPFW’s 50th anniversary.

Beginning next week, members of the public will be able to get a sneak peak at models of these sculptures.

Sculptures with Purpose, the organization behind the project, will unveil the models during a news conference Wednesday at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and the models will be on display for free later in the month at the museum.

Twenty-three artists worked on the sculptures, which will dot the city much like Mastodons did for the school’s 40th anniversary nearly 10 years ago.

“Art is so subjective, but there are some that will capture everyone’s imagination,” Ruth Stone, project manager for Sculpture with Purpose, said of the bike racks.

“They come in various sizes and a range of materials. Some have lights, some move, some are cute and some will appeal to all ages,” she said.

Stone said the idea came from other cities that have had similar public works of art that also serve as something people can use.

Among those cities is Louisville, Ky., which has placed sculptured bike racks across the city that look like things as varied as people, statues and houses.

And the theme seemed to fit Fort Wayne perfectly, Stone said.

“Clearly, there has been a push for more permanent public art in Fort Wayne, and there’s been 70 miles of bike trails added,” she said. “So we really just merged that to become one in our culture in Fort Wayne.”

Stone’s organization began the process of planning the sculptures last year, talking with artists who might be interested in making the sculptures and businesses that might be interested in sponsoring them.

Also last year, her organization unveiled one completed bike rack sculpture dubbed “Confluence.” It’s the three wavy poles with lights placed in Freimann Square.

Eventually, artists were given a few requirements for their designs: a bike had to be attached, and it had to be durable enough to climb on as well as meet safety regulations.

“We are thrilled with the models we have,” Stone said.

The bike racks are expected by be placed throughout the city by May of next year, Stone said.