Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said he met with the Warsaw Public Arts Commission (WPAC) earlier this week and they discussed the donation.
“Milton Holmgrain had approached us about donating seven sculptures that Milton has helped design and collected over the years. They’re exterior sculptures. They’ve been out in his yard. He will be leaving the community and wanted to try to find a permanent home for the sculptures. They’re decent sized,” Thallemer said.
(A story on the Holmgrains, the sculptures and the donation appeared in Tuesday’s Times-Union.)
The main charge of the WPAC is to create more public art.
“They enthusiastically decided this was a good thing,” Thallemer said.
A letter from Milton to Thallemer serves as a formal notification of Holmgrains’ donation of seven sculptures to the city. The donation includes three named sculptures – “Peacock,” “Joker” and “Wing Totem” – and an additional four unnamed sculptures.
In his letter, Holmgrain asks that the city be responsible to remove the sculptures from their current location on his property; relocate the statutes to locations that they will be accessible to the public and send a photo to him of the relocated sculpture; and recognize with a small plaque on each sculpture that they were donated by Milton and Marie Holmgrain.
“Thank you to the city of Warsaw and the Warsaw Public Arts Commission for providing a lasting home for our collection of sculptures,” the letter concludes.
Milton was the chief executive officer at Kosciusko Community Hospital (now Lutheran Kosciusko Hospital) for many years, retiring in 1988. The Holmgrains several decades ago donated the aluminum sculpture that sits in Central Park near the intersection of Indiana and Fort Wayne streets.
“Milton had joked that he had done that to try to get other people to follow suit, and not much has happened in that way until the Public Arts Commission was formed when I first started,” Thallemer said.
Suzie Light, WPAC president, and the Commission meet once a month.
“Obviously, they put the (John) Mishler statue in honor of Mary Ellen Rudisel out in the parking lot. We’ve got ‘Radiance’ down at Buffalo Street, and this will just add to our collection of outdoor public art,” Thallemer said.
The only thing the city has to do, he said, is get the sculptures moved. Mishler will come down from Goshen to help with that.
Thallemer said he’s already talked to Warsaw Police Department Chief Scott Whitaker about a good location for the sculptures while they’re being refurbished and ready to be relocated. He said they certainly will recognize the Holmgrains with small plaques on the sculptures as they’re placed.
“I know the Public Arts Commission will look to help fund the refurbishment and relocation, so we’ve got a great infrastructure in place to get this done and, like I said, it fits right along with what the Public Arts Commission has been trying to do,” Thallemer said.
Board of Works member Jeff Grose made a motion to accept the request and the donation of the seven sculptures. Thallemer seconded it and it was approved 2-0, with member George Clemens absent.