Client: City of Carmel
Location: Carmel, IN, United States
Completion date: 2020
Artwork budget: $450,000
Bayliss & Co.
A sculpture and musical kiosks celebrate Hoagy Carmichael and the life and work of the Oscar-winning composer, pianist, and singer. Commissioned in 2018 and installed in 2020, the project features a thirty-eight-foot-tall sculpture located on a roundabout outside the Center for The Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. Inspired by the songwriter’s lyrics and timeless impact his work, the artwork includes abstracted stars, moons and musical notes that burst joyfully from a tilted gramophone horn. Hidden among them is a single skylark, a reference to one of Carmichael’s famous compositions. The structure of stainless and silver and gold powder-coated steel sits on an Indiana limestone base and is illuminated at night from within by hidden light sources of colored light.
The project’s primary goal was to create a fitting tribute to one of Indiana’s greatest cultural treasures in one of Indiana’s important cultural settings. Visually connecting to the neo-classical Palladium building, “Homage to Hoagy” is a cultural landmark that beautifies the area and informs viewers about the Indiana native it celebrates.
In order to engage viewers, the sculpture is accompanied by two interactive, information kiosks installed on sidewalks nearby. Echoing the artwork, they are styled on vintage gramophones and feature crank handles that activate over a dozen digital recordings of well-known Carmichael compositions by famous artists, old and new, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, the Four Freshmen, Bette Midler and Michael Bublé.
In designing elements of the sculpture, the artist considered, even in the earliest design stages, how light would interact with the moons and stars, as well as the smaller musical notes that seem to explode like fireworks from the heart of the composition.
The artist collaborated creatively with fabricator and installer, bo-mar Industries to bring his vision to reality. He also worked closely with city engineers, landscapers, lighting designers, as well as limestone and concrete specialists in preparing the site and illuminating the art work.
For subject matter, the artist's research included Carmichael’s two autobiographies, which detail his life and work, from his childhood in poverty and his fascination with early jazz, to his later career as singer, songwriter, actor and radio star.