Carmel to move ‘Morning Sun’ sculpture 2 miles north

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Carmel’s most infamous piece of public art will soon be on the move.

The City of Carmel plans to relocate “Morning Sun,” a $209,000 sculpture by artist Brad Howe, from the roundabout at Range Line Road and Executive Drive 2 miles north to the roundabout at Range Line Road and Lowe’s Way. The city did not provide a timeline for the move.

City of Carmel spokesman Dan McFeely said the relocation will allow for a “series of traditional and coordinated art pieces and fountains” in Range Line Road roundabouts at 116th Street, Carmel Drive, Executive Drive, City Center Drive and Walnut Street. None of the other roundabouts currently contain public art.    

In September, the mayor’s office asked the Carmel Public Art Advisory Committee to weigh in on the move, which would cost $50,000 to cover new infrastructure at the Lowe’s Way roundabout to support the sculpture.

The committee voted 7-0 against the proposal. Its members generally aren’t opposed to relocating the sculpture, but they don’t want to see additional taxpayer dollars be directed toward a sculpture that much of the community dislikes.

“The committee voiced strong, unanimous objection to spending additional public funds (approximately 25 percent of the original cost of the art project) to relocate, given their past advice regarding this piece,” the committee’s response to the proposed move stated. “Also, given the substantial negative public input/reaction on the art itself and mindful of good stewardship of public funds, the committee suggests the City sell the piece or relocate using private funds. The committee also wants a clear record that it did not advise the City as to the acquisition of this art.”

The committee’s responsibilities include reviewing proposed public art purchases and locations and submitting a written recommendation to the mayor’s office. The recommendations are advisory only, and the mayor has full and final authority to purchase public art and select its location. The committee was only tasked with reviewing locations at the time the city purchased “Morning Sun.”

Julia Saltsgaver, CPAAC co-chair, said the committee had previously proposed the roundabout at Range Line Road and Lowe’s Way as a location for the sculpture, as it locates “Morning Sun” nearer to Howe’s other two sculptures in Carmel: “Cyclo” at Range Line and Smoky Row roads and “Reckon” at Range Line Road and Elm Street.

“The thinking was to have sort of a succession of placement,” Saltsgaver said. “After discussion and input, the city decided – and they’re well within their purview – (they were) going to put it (at Range Line Road and Carmel Drive).”

McFeely said the mayor’s office “always appreciates” the committee’s advice and will “carefully consider it.”

“But it’s important to understand that it is the responsibility of the elected mayor and his staff to decide how to handle city financial matters,” McFeely said.

Saltsgaver said the committee has not received information about the series of public art installations envisioned along Range Line Road.

McFeely said the city intends to hire an art consultant to help seek submissions from local and national artists for future public art pieces. The Board of Public Works is set to vote Nov. 15 on a $48,000 one-year contract with California-based CAST Inc. for public art consulting services.

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