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Jeffersonville Unveils First City-Commissioned Public Art Project

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On Tuesday, Jeffersonville unveiled large-scale, wood models of the first piece commissioned by a community, civic and private initiative focused on developing public art in the Southern Indiana city.

The sculpture, called "Jeff," will be on a berm at Mechanic and 1oth streets—a main artery into the city.“Seven years ago we had nothing here,” said Nathan Samuel, a  Jeffersonville councilman who also serves on the Jeffersonville Public Art Commission.He pointed to the grassy berm, which separates 10th Street from an industrial yard.  “It was just a flat piece of ground, and you could see all the trash and junk back there—30,000 cars drive past here everyday. So we put in the berm and now are installing a conversation piece for 30,000 people to see every day."Sculptor R. Michael Wimmer recently moved to New Albany with his girlfriend, where they own WE Studio. His sculptural concept was selected by the public from entries in a design competition that sought to visually transform this high-traffic area.“When I first came out to the space, I realized that this wasn’t Waterfront (Park). There are very few pedestrians. You have five lanes of traffic driving by at 40 miles per hour, so you can’t make something too detailed. You have to catch them,” Wimmer said. “And the city wanted me to cover the whole berm, so that is 250 feet of art.”“Jeff,” named after the city, consists of seven 10-foot tall red figures on the berm. The first is pushing itself out of the  berm's beginning, followed by a sequence of figures running until the final sculpture is poised to leap off of the end.“'Jeff' is jumping into the future of Jeffersonville,” said Wimmer.Jeffersonville City Councilman Dennis Julius said he believes that pieces like Wimmer’s are a “high-impact, low-cost asset to the city,”That's what Mayor Mike Moore wants for the Jeffersonville.“There is obviously a competition to attract young families and senior citizens as well, and I believe one way to stand out is to have a strong emphasis on our public arts projects," Moore said. "As Nathan said, there used to be nothing here, but now we will have something that people will visit and interpret in their own ways.”The city, the public art commission, the Jeffersonville Arts Alliance and The MAMMOTH Creative Art Services are some of the organizations working in partnership under the City Canvas initiative, which commissioned the piece. “Jeff” is expected to be fully installed by the end of the year.