Public art helps define an entire community's identity and reveal the unique character of a specific neighborhood. It is a unifying force. Public art has the power to energize our public spaces, arouse our thinking, and transform the places where we live, work, and play into more welcoming and beautiful environments that invite interaction. Public art can make strangers talk, children ask questions, and calm a hurried life.

Public art helps define an entire community's identity and reveal the unique character of a specific neighborhood. It is a unifying force. Public art has the power to energize our public spaces, arouse our thinking, and transform the places where we live, work, and play into more welcoming and beautiful environments that invite interaction. Public art can make strangers talk, children ask questions, and calm a hurried life.

Beyond its enriching personal benefits, public art is a true symbol of a city's maturity. It increases a community's assets and expresses a community's positive sense of identity and values. It helps green space thrive, enhances roadsides, pedestrian corridors, and community gateways; it demonstrates unquestionable civic and corporate pride in citizenship and affirms an educational environment. A city with public art is a city that thinks and feels.

The Westerville Parks and Recreation Department and the Arts Council of Westerville, Inc. have partnered with the Midwest Sculpture Initiative to provide an outdoor sculpture exhibition throughout Westerville for the past three years and this year was voted the "Best Public Art" installation by CityScene Magazine in their 2013 Best of the 'Bus edition.

Founded in 2004 MSI was formed to provide innovative outdoor sculpture exhibitions. In 2013, MSI installed displays throughout Michigan and Ohio.

The 2013 Westerville installation locations, artists and sponsors are:

* Dash by artist James L. Oleson Jr. is located at and sponsored by Parkside Village Senior Living Community.

* Hobie's Dilemma by artist Douglas Gruizenga is located at the Westerville Community Center and sponsored by the Westerville Parks Foundation.

* Charioteer by artist Mike Sohikian is located at the Westerville Sports Complex and sponsored by Parkside Village Senior Living Community.

* Whirl-A-Daisy by artist Nicholas Sikma is located at and sponsored by the Westerville Public Library.

* Catano by artist Rollin Karg is located at the Westerville Municipal Building and is sponsored by OhioHealth Hospital.

* Faith's Flight by artist Rollin Karg is located at the Westerville Senior Center and sponsored by the Westerville Senior Association.

Through the support of our sponsors we are thrilled to provide this year-long exhibition to the community. We hope that during the fall and into the winter you will take the opportunity to visit each of the installations and enjoy the beauty of art and nature.

Expansion planned

Public art in Westerville is expanding with the upcoming installation of several pieces by artist Cobert C. Collins through a partnership with the Cobert C. Collins Memorial Sculpture Fund and the Westerville Parks Foundation.

Collins' images reflect his inner vision that life is "a discovery of the inherent design and relationship between all things." His pieces mirror a continued fascination with movement, change and the importance of bonds between people.

Collins passed away recently in Delaware, Ohio. During his lifetime his work was the subject of television, newspapers and magazines; pieces are currently included in private collections and in numerous galleries.

Three pieces of Collins' collection already have been installed at the mini-park plaza which just recently opened at the northeast corner of State Street and Schrock Road -- part of the revitalization of South State Street and the Westerville Square Shopping Center. Be on the lookout for more installations in public spaces during October.

Phyllis Self, recreation operations superintendent for the Westerville Parks & Recreation Department, is a member of the Arts Council of Westerville.