Late sculptor’s final works unveiled at Carmel cancer center

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IU Health North Hospital celebrated the vibrant life of Joe Schwarz by unveiling two sculptures built in his honor at the new IU Health North Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center May 17.

The sculptures, titled “The Spark of Ambition” and “Sharing Hope,” depict Schwarz’s humble beginnings as a shoeshine boy in New York and Schwarz as an adult later in life, when he enjoyed feeding birds on the beach.

Schwarz moved to the U.S. from Argentina when he was a child, and then in the 1960s he moved to Indianapolis and became a wealthy hotel and apartment developer. He died in March 2018 after battling throat cancer. To honor his memory, his wife, Shelly Schwarz, who now lives in Florida, donated $10 million to IU Health North in Carmel to help with the hospital’s new cancer center. She also donated the sculptures.

The sculptures were the last installations created by J. Seward Johnson before he died in March 2020. Johnson is the artist of many lifelike sculptures seen in downtown Carmel.

“The Spark of Ambition” depicts Joe Schwarz as a boy shining shoes in New York to help support his family. (Submitted photos)

“The Spark of Ambition” sculpture, which depicts Schwarz as a child and shoe shiner, was created to represent skill and innocence. The “Sharing Hope” sculpture represents joy and celebration of life. The statues are in the new Cornerstone Garden at the Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center. The Cornerstone Garden is a new greenspace serving as a respite for patients, family members and IU Health team members.

Since opening in early 2020, the cancer center has seen more than 14,000 patient visits. During the pandemic, the center remained open and created curbside lab appointments where patients could remain in their cars while staff took blood samples to monitor the progress of the patient’s treatment. The center also implemented virtual visits.

“What we have here is just an amazing facility and also just an amazing place for care,” said Doug Puckett, president of IU Health Indianapolis Suburban Region. “It is exceeding expectations. It is tremendous for me to see the care and hear the stories of not only the quality of care, but the experience that our patients are having. We are really excited about this facility and what we are able to do.”


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