Trades District gateway art gets OK from Bloomington RDC

No later than the end of 2021, and probably earlier, a new sculpture will appear at the intersection of 10th and Madison streets, as a gateway to the area known as the Trades District.

At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s five-member redevelopment commission approved the roughly $90,000 contract with Indianapolis firm Ignition Arts, LLC, to fabricate and install the artwork, which was designed by Stefan Reiss.

Reiss, who’s based in Berlin, will be paid a $12,500 artist’s fee, according to Bloomington’s assistant director for the arts Sean Starowitz.

The funds are made available through the city’s Percentage for Art ordinance.  The local law says that one percent of the budget for certain city capital projects has to include an amount that is at least one percent of the city’s contribution to the estimated construction costs.

Reiss’s work will sit on the second level of the tiered plaza area at the intersection, Starowitz said at Monday’s RDC meeting.

The design, which features square plexiglass tubes with LED lights arranged in angular patterns, was selected by Bloomington’s arts commission from five finalists in the summer of 2019.

Five to 10 percent of the budget is set aside for maintenance, Starowitz told RDC members.

The artwork has been scaled down to fit the site, Starowitz said, which means there will be less maintenance. Related to maintenance, Starowitz said there would not be any grass around the piece, because that would cause consistent maintenance concerns. The lifespan of the LEDs is expected to be better than 10 years, Starowitz said.

The artwork by Reiss is part of an RDC project that started in 2014, to make infrastructure improvements in the Trades District area, which is just north of city hall. With the artwork added in, the project now has a total estimated cost of $7.4 million.

The Trades District parking garage, just southwest of the 10th and Madison location for Reiss’s sculpture, is expected to be finished in a couple of months.

The parking garage is a separate project with its own public art installation. Esteban Garcia was selected in October 2020 as the artist for the public art that will be installed in the Trades District parking garage. Garcia’s piece includes tiles that will, in part, be designed through community engagement workshops.