The Herald Bulletin

May 13, 2012

Walking Man statues have personalities

Each 10-foot sculpture has been painted, accessorized differently

By Melanie D. Hayes
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — For weeks, artists have been creating designs, brushing paint and adding accessories to 10-foot-tall steel statues and now that most of them have been completed, their individual personalities are shining through.

The Walking Man public art project, created by artists Levi Rinker and Laree Blazer, includes 30 statues that have been painted by professional artists, schoolchildren and groups of co-workers. They will be installed in various locations around the city by June 1, and games, school projects and a festival will revolve around them during the summer.

Twin sisters Wendy Otto and Cindy Fox, owners of Double Action Twin Airbrushing in Anderson, have worked on three of the statues, with only minor work left to do on the last one.

The first statue is the “Casino Man” for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. It’s a vision of the casino and the activities it offers. The body of this Walking Man is a slot machine, and its legs are made to look like coins and dollars bills flowing out as winnings. The statue’s shirt sleeves are decorated with poker cards and chips. And his head is a portion of a roulette wheel.

“Hoosier Park gave us some ideas, but we changed the locations of some of the items so they could work better,” Otto, 46, said. “But we kept everything in there that they asked for.”

The second statue encompasses a design that Otto and Fox submitted in the application to participate in the Walking Man project. Hoosier Park will also display this statue.

“The Great Loss to Indiana” statue will be covered in almost 3,000 of Indiana soldiers who were lost, from the Korean War through today, Otto said.

“The body is black,” Otto said. “He is the shadow of a soldier carrying the names of the deceased or missing in action. There is an eagle crying in the face area. The tear has the state of Indiana on it.”

The painting and design work have been completed on those two statues, and the third one is near completion.

The sisters are still working on a statue for Mofab Inc. metal fabrication company. This statue will include a Walking Man that is designed to look like a welder. And that statue will be welding together half of another statue.

“We were excited and intimidated at the same time,” Otto said of the project. “Intimidation kicked in once we stood next to it (the statue.) It’s not like any vehicles we have ever painted, with all its corners, details and height.”

The painting of most of the statues has been completed. The next step is to apply anti-graffiti coating to help prevent any damages or vandalism, Rinker said.

Tashana Preston, 22, just graduated from Ball State University with a degree in painting and a minor in art history. And her first public art project is a Walking Man statue that she completed on Friday.

One of Preston’s professors suggested that she apply to be an artist on the project. She submitted a design, and both she and her design were chosen.

“A private sponsor bought a sculpture and wanted to give it to an up-and-coming artist or someone who was new to the arts,” she said. “Levi picked my project because it represents the community and the people within the community.”

That statue will be placed outside the Anderson Public Library.

“I came up with a design that reflects what I do with my own artwork,” Preston said. “It’s graffiti style with bright and vibrant colors that represent a rising and happy community.”

Preston said she is excited and honored to be a part of the project.

“I wanted to do public art and this is a good way to get started,” Preston said. “Just graduated college and I’m hoping to find a job. This will be a great step toward that.”

Find Melanie D. Hayes on Facebook and @MelanieDHayes on Twitter or call 648-4250.