New Artist Contributes to Sculptures in Downtown Angola | Heralrepublican

ANGOLA — The artistic council of the mayor of Angola chose the sculptures for the fall of 2022 on Monday.

The tentative installation date is October 14. The council selected the sculptures based on aesthetic considerations of how the works would fit into the colors of Angola in the fall. City officials also said they didn’t want the sculptures accidentally damaged during the display.

Once again, the Mendez brothers from Decatur were on board, as was newcomer Sunday Mahaja.

The four winning sculptures are Royal Highness and Dragon Wings by Mahaja, each approved by 80% of the council and Just a Little Peace by Alex Mendez approved by 70% of voters and Balance Beams (30%) by Gregory Mendez.

The fourth most voted sculpture after Royal Highness and Dragon Wings is Mahaja’s Giraffe which got 60% voter approval. However, the board decided it was better to diversify the choice of artists, and that’s why Balance Beams was selected, said Angola’s director of economic development and planning, Jennifer Barclay.

Barclay said Mahaja was a new entrant to the selection process. His biography submitted to the city states that Mahaja was born in Nigeria and came to Goshen College to study art.

According to Mahaja’s biography, his main focus was originally acrylic painting, but he fell in love with metal sculpture during his first year. Sunday’s biography says his art is inspired by “what he sees, his life experiences and the challenge of bringing discarded metal to life”.

In recent years Mahaja has had solo exhibitions in Warsaw, Elkhart and Goshen, and he has also received several awards in Indiana and neighboring states. In 2021 alone, he received five art awards.

Alex Mendez began his career as a sculptor in a small town in northeastern Indiana, but his work spans from North Dakota to Georgia and from Florida to New Hampshire. Alex has endless hope matched only by his talent for sculpting metal into beautiful art, reads his biography.

Gregory Mendez was born and raised in Decatur and earned a Bachelor of Arts in sculpture from the St. Francis School of Creative Arts in Fort Wayne. His biography submitted to the city indicates that Mendez also participates in community development by promoting public art at the local level.

“My sculptures represent moving figures that are classic in form and modern in technique. The figures are made of welded layers of steel that represent the elements of art,” reads his artist statement.

The Arts Council of Angola voted on 11 works of art submitted by three artists. Mahaja submitted five projects, Alex Mendez submitted four, and Gregory Mendez submitted one. The 11th sculpture named Con Altura, was made by Joel Lara. The city has also selected two alternate choices if the nominated sculptures are not available. The alternatives are Mahaja’s Happy Flyer (with 30% of the vote) and Alex Mendez’s Prosper (10%).

The four winning sculptures will be used as replacements for previous works. Two were recently removed – the sunflower sculpture was broken and another was recovered because the artist was expected, Barclay said.

The deadline for artists wishing to exhibit their work in downtown Angola in fall 2022 was September 5 and priority was given to outdoor sculptures that have “visual appeal for all ages”, reads -on in the city’s call to artists.

Mayor Richard Hickman was present at the meeting and said that when the sculpture project proposal was first presented to him, he thought the local community was too conservative for this type of business and that the company would receive bad reviews, but much of its feedback has been positive.

“[It’s] a great addition to our community,” Hickman said.