‘Dramatic’ Hanging Sculpture Concept Proposed for Downtown

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman ‘Dramatic’ Hanging Sculpture Concept Proposed for Downtown'Impatient Optimist' in Seattle, 2015. Photo by Studio Echelman, via Wikimedia Commons.
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A “dramatic” fiber art piece is currently being proposed for Downtown Columbus, hanging over the intersection at Gay and High streets.

The massive piece, dubbed “Current,” would be commissioned by international fiber artist and sculptor Janet Echelman. The Boston-based artist is known for similar works in Washington D.C., Seattle, London, Greensboro, North Carolina, the San Francisco International Airport and more, over her nearly 20-year career.

Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Edwards Companies, said the project has been in the works for a few years now. The piece was mentioned last year as a part of the Edwards Companies’ plan for more art and entertainment on Gay Street.

Models of the Echelman piece Downtown. Images via the Edwards Companies application to the Downtown Commission.

The piece will consist of a fiber art structural net and be anchored to the four buildings at the intersection of Gay and High. The owners of each piece of real estate at the intersection will allow for the piece to be attached to each building, according to Columbus developer Don DeVere, who presented a conceptual review before the Columbus Downtown Commission.

Reportedly inspired by the historic innovation behind the Short North’s lighted archways, the structure will be oriented from East to West like the iconic arches. The colors used, red and blue, represent brick and traditional construction, and the Scioto River. The title “Current” also pulls from the lighted arches and river—as in an electric current and river current—as well as the “currency” and innovation of Columbus as a “forward-looking city.”

The free-flowing piece, made of a mesh-like material, will illuminate at night using lighting attached to the buildings.

The proposed piece, which is privately funded, would be taken down each winter and reinstalled in the spring, as ice can affect the sculpture.

The piece has required building permits to allow for significant structural modifications that will help some of the buildings withstand the sculpture’s lateral load.

A letter submitted to the Downtown Commission called the piece “unaesthetic” and “environmentally harmful” because it is a hazard to birds. However, DeVere said the piece would not be a hazard. Residents in other cities that have considered installing Echelman pieces have touted similar concerns.

The Downtown Commission has already held a conceptual review and is expected to provide a recommendation to the Columbus Art Commission next year.

In addition to “Current,” Edwards said at least four art galleries are looking to relocate to the area, with as many as six within the next 12 months.

Sarah Gormley, owner of Sarah Gormley Gallery confirmed that she’s had several conversations with Edwards.

“I’m incredibly impressed by Jeff’s vision for the area and would love for SGG to be a part of something so exciting for Downtown Columbus,” said Gormley.

The Edwards Companies is looking to help codify an “art-centric neighborhood” where “Current” could serve as the centerpiece, said Edwards.

“You could say that the east end would be anchored by CCAD and the Columbus Museum of Art, and the west end could be anchored by the sculpture and a number of art galleries,” he said.

Edwards looks at “Current” as a potential statement piece for Columbus.

“I think it’ll be something pretty iconic. When we talk about things that are iconic for Columbus, I think it will be one of those things,” he said.

Update 1/5/2022: This article has been updated to include details and quotes from Jeff Edwards of the Edwards Companies.

1/7/2022: Updated with a quote from Sarah Gormley of Sarah Gormley Gallery.

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