George Rickey Sculptures Now on Display Downtown South Bend

by Nick Molnar on October 8, 2009

South Bend has had sculptures at the airport for some time now, but recently added to its public art in the central business district.¬†Stroll through downtown South Bend and you’ll now see several sculptures by short time native¬†George Rickey. They are here for a year and all easy to find on a short walk (map on Arts Everywhere web-site). Pick a windy day, and you’ll see them swing and sway. Here are some short videos to give you an idea of the project.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Townie October 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I have never understood stupid metal sculptures. They look like junk and I sure hope the city isn’t paying any money. Anyone can throw things like this together, seriously, you should have seen what people made in metal working art class in college. Same stuff, junk. A beautifully carved marble statute is art, takes talent, etc. This stuff, no talent and with the harsh SB winters, just makes the place more depressing. I know art when I see it, and this ain’t it.


Nick Molnar October 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

Marble is nice, but it doesn’t weather well, so doesn’t seem appropriate for outdoor art installations. I rather like the moving sculptures but can see how they would seem too industrial or bleak to others. Maybe I should have waited for a sunny day to take my videos.

Temporary outdoor art placed in other city’s downtowns has drawn interest and visitors – Chicago’s cows and St. Joseph’s bears. Hopefully it will do the same in South Bend.

Regarding the funding, the Arts Everywhere web-site lists six sponsors of the project:
the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County
South Bend Museum of Art (SBMA),
Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art,
the George Rickey Foundation,
the Estate of George Rickey,
and 1st Source Bank

The city’s economic redevelopment commission approved $1 million to create a sculpture garden near the Century Center last October, but the project was halted in April. I haven’t seen anything to indicate the city is funding the project.

Readers, two questions for you…
Is there any other public art in the South Bend Area you think should be highlighted? And can anyone clarify if any public dollars funded the Rickey project?


Laura Moran Walton, Director of Communications, Community Foundation of St. Joseph County October 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

Hello, Nick and readers,

I’m the Director of Communications for the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and wanted to answer your question about how INNOVATION: GEORGE RICKEY KINETIC SCULPTURE was funded. The funding for INNOVATION came from a collection of private and corporate donors, including the Community Foundation’s ArtsEverywhere Initiative, private trusts, 1st Source Bank, and many others. (For a full listing, please see the “Thanks” page at The site also includes lots of information on the whole series of Rickey-related events and exhibitions that are taking place in South Bend over the next year.) No tax dollars were used to support this project. We do very much appreciate the help that the City provided, though, in working with us to find safe and appropriate locations for the sculptures.

I would also suggest you take a look at the Tribune’s coverage of INNOVATION from 9/20/09 (by Andrew S. Hughes) if you would like further information or clarification.

Did you know George Rickey was born in South Bend? That’s one of the big reasons that this show is so appropriate for our community. He was the son of a Singer Sewing Machine engineer, and combined his own knowledge of engineering with his love of art to create these really terrific kinetic sculptures. They’re not motorized in any way, BTW–all the motion comes from the wind.

And yes, Nick, the sculptures do look their best on a sunny day, when the sun hits that stainless steel. I’m hoping for a few more classic fall days to really highlight their beauty!

Hope that helps! Laura Moran Walton


John T October 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm

The only one that is halfway interesting is the breaking column one. There certainly are more worthy causes for the sponsors to donate their time and money to in order to beautiful SB. If you want to spruce up the downtown, get rid of the hobo problem. People that are homeless is one thing, they want to get back on their feet and on their way, being a hobo is without any doubt a lifestyle choice. I have gotten to know many hobos and although most tend to drink a lot of beer (Natural Ice is a favorite) they wouldn’t do an honest days work for more than a few days at most. You can throw up some stainless steel sculptures to seem sophisticated if you want, but the city would be a lot prettier without the hobos and the thievery (metal scraping is a biggie) that they engage in. Come to think of it, I’m surprised one of those things hasn’t been scraped already.


Tracy October 10, 2009 at 10:05 am

I think they look cool in the video. Though I would have said they sucked if any city funds were used to get or keep them. Seeing as that’s not true, I’ll give them a thumbs up. I’ll have to check them out in person.
I love the art at the airport too. And though it’s not outside, the Fire Arts building is really cool to visit and tour.


Barb October 10, 2009 at 11:11 am

Thanks for posting the info on these art pieces. I will be more aware of them next time I am downtown. I would like to see them in motion so will try to make it on a windy day.


Stan Wruble October 12, 2009 at 11:46 am

I work downtown and I think the sculptures add greatly to the city’s attractiveness. If nothing else, they are a conversation piece. Whether they are “good” art or not is, I believe, impossible for anyone to say since whether art is good is mostly a subjective analysis. Some people love Dali or Van Gogh, others think their works are crap. Sculpture lends to even more subjective analysis, but the bottom line is art and culture make a downtown a more appealing place to visit.


Suzanne October 13, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I think the sculptures are pretty cool and agree that when the sun hits them, they’ll look even better. I certainly wouldn’t know how to make a kinetically moving metal sculpture so I’m impressed! Thanks for letting us know about them Nick.


Bender Joe October 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm

“but the bottom line is art and culture make a downtown a more appealing place to visit.”

– Lipstick on a pig……lipstick on a pig.


Regina October 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm

I can see two of the sculptures from my office window and appreciate the installation of this art. It adds a bit of uniqueness to downtown and is tasteful and interesting. Thanks to the donors who supported this.


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