City vocally supports local artists

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Sep. 1, 2005 


Bloomington residents came together Wednesday night for what Mayor Mark Kruzan called the "absolute best use of a purple wall in the city of Bloomington." The Mayor's reception celebrated the Tree City Arts competition that has been displayed in City Hall since Aug. 20.

The Tree City USA competition was put on in commemoration of Bloomington being named Tree City USA for the 21st year in a row. Tree City USA is an award given by the National Arbor Day Foundation every year to cities across the country that meet certain tree-friendly standards.

The Mayor didn't know if they were going to keep it going as an annual event, but because of the large turnout of 41 artists and the public support for the competition, they are going have it again next year, said Maria Heslin, city communications director.

The pieces ranged from the abstract to the more traditional. There were several paintings of the courthouse and many of forest scenes.

There was also an out-of-the-way sculpture called "Tree Deva" by Teri Moore of a tree that resembled a voodoo doll of a large woman standing on a rough triangular rock surrounded by golden foil. In place of the head of the doll were metal wires that could either be hair or the limbs of a tree, and at the bottom of the doll, there were also metal wires that could be roots or the many long feet of a headless doll.

One requirement for entering the contest was the piece had to be an artistic interpretation of trees. It could be any media from painting, drawing, photography, computer generated art, mixed media, prints or sculptures, and every type was represented at the show.

One piece, "Dogs Luv Trees" by Carole Heslin, was a papier mâché sculpture of a dog peeing on a tree. It even had tiny flowers next to the tree and a short poem on the frame around it: "I think that I shall never see; a dog that doesn't love a tree."

The winner of the competition is determined by the public's vote. To vote, people need to go to City Hall before Sept. 10. The three winners will each receive a tree planted in their honor in one of Bloomington's city parks. The winners get to choose which park, and a plaque with their name will be put next to the tree.

The art competition is part of a Mayor Kruzan's plan to use art as a tool of economic development.

"The city of Bloomington will get behind more efforts to get local people to buy local art," Kruzan said. He added all the pieces in the competition were for sale.

Carolyn Rogers Richard, an artist in the competition, is fully behind the Mayor's idea.

"I am excited about the Mayor's office promoting art," she said. "I want to encourage more (of) this kind of behavior from the Mayor."

Encouraging the mayor to do more was one of the reasons she entered her piece called "Venerable Sweetgum on the Courthouse" into the competition. Her piece is a painting of the sweetgum tree outside the Monroe County Courthouse -- her favorite tree in the city. Before she could name her painting, she had to go to Howard's Bookstore to find out what type of tree it was.

Her friend, Tricia Heise Wente of By Hand Gallery, also did a painting of the courthouse called "Trees around the Square." In her painting, she left out all the cars, people and stoplights on the square because the theme of the competition was trees and she wanted to focus on the trees.

Bloomington resident Debbie Wade said her favorite piece was "Leaf Light" by Susan Brodie, but she was biased because she was one of her good friends. What she really liked about the show was that people took one theme -- trees -- and expressed themselves in so many different ways.

"Life without art sucks, basically," she said. "What do we really do that shows our humanity better? Nothing."


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