For the past eight years, a scrap metal sculpture of a dog hiking its leg on a hydrant has decorated the traffic island at Walnut and Brown streets in Seymour.
“Diogee (d-o-g)” was a whimsical piece created by local artist Nate Montgomery for the Adopt-a-Spot art project started in 2010 by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, led by Bill Bailey and Southern Indiana Center for the Arts.
The idea behind the Adopt-a-Spot initiative was to enhance the community with art and spotlight local artists. Four pieces were chosen, two from Montgomery, and they were supposed to be on display for two years and then replaced with new artwork biennially.
“The agreement was that local businesses would provide a stipend for artists to fund a two-year lease on each work for the approved locations and that during this time, the city would select another set of sculptures to take the place of the originals and repeat the process on a two-year basis, providing the residents a new set of sculptures to inspire them,” Montgomery said.
That never happened, however, and “Diogee” has remained a fixture in the community.
But soon, that will change.
The Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety voted Thursday to notify the chamber and art center to have the artwork removed.
“They will be responsible for removing it,” said Mayor Craig Luedeman. “We aren’t going to touch it.”
The city already is facing a potential lawsuit from Seymour artist Terry Champ, who said the city is responsible for damages caused to his steel sculpture “Trinity.” That art, which featured expensive gold leaf detail, used to be located at the traffic island at the intersection of Community Drive and West Second Street.
Seymour High School officials requested “Trinity” be removed in 2016. The board of works approved that request, but the sculpture was taken down and left at the Seymour Department of Public Works garage before the city could make contact with Champ.
Luedeman said city workers did not move the artwork, so the city is not liable for any damages that may have occurred.
Montgomery, who now lives in Noblesville, said he isn’t bothered that “Diogee” will no longer be on display, but he would like there to be more public art in Seymour.
“I find it unfortunate that the original plan was not pursued with the same passion Bill Bailey (former president of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce) had invested in seeding the project originally,” Montgomery said. “I believe if it had been developed properly, the city could have benefited immensely.
“I would love to see someone local pick up the program and implement it properly sometime in the future because I believe public art is a positive,” he said.
Should the city be willing to keep the Adopt-a-Spot program going, Montgomery said he would personally offer a $1,000 stipend from his business, Montgomery Metal Works LLC, to any Hoosier artist to provide an approved sculpture for one spot in the city.
“I think there are several local businesses that if asked would be willing to do the same if the city would allow it,” he said. “We simply need someone that would be willing to dedicate a small amount of time to coordination of the effort.”