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New Art Takes Wing Over The B-Line Trail

A ten-by-ten foot scrapyard angel will be suspended from the aptly named "Auto Heaven" building.

  • open book with license plate letters and plastic heart

    Image 1 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The Messenger will hold this open book filled with multilingual words of compassion, crafted from license plate letters.

  • figure taking shape

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    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    By late October, a wing is completely feathered with license plates and the head is taking shape.

  • the messenger's wings come together

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    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The angel's wings are feathered with donated license plates.

  • Joe helps volunteer rivet

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    Photo: courtesy Joe LaMantia

    Community members learn new skills as they get involved in the collaborative art project. Here, a volunteer learns to rivet under Joe LaMantia's guidance.

  • the wings, body, and head come together

    Image 5 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    By October 10, the Messenger's body, wings, and head were joined, with the license plate "feathers" ready to be affixed.

  • volunteers rivet metal to sculpture

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    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    During one of the community work days on Fourth Street, a pair of volunteers rivet metal to the sculpture's armature.

  • cardboard wings, traffic sign, against school lockers

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    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Components of the Messenger await construction at Fairview School.

  • proposed art on b-line trail at Allen Street

    Image 8 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Private property adjacent to the B-Line Trail at Allen Street will provide the setting for The Messenger.

  • image of proposed public art on b-line trail

    Image 9 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    A composite of female and male identities, The Messenger will be suspended from the back side of the Auto Heaven building, at the level of the roof's peak.

  • drawing for the angel sculpture in progress at Fairview School

    Image 10 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Joe LaMantia has been working on the preparatory drawings for The Messenger in the Fairview Elementary School Auditorium.

  • a preparatory drawing showing the license plate that will serve as feathers in the completed piece

    Image 11 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The Messenger's wings will be feathered with donated license plates.

  • Welding the angel

    Image 12 of 38

    Photo: Joe La Mantia

    The Messenger's metal armature under construction.

  • worker holds cut out face of angel

    Image 13 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The angel's profile was cut from recycled metal.

  • the completed metal armature in standing position

    Image 14 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The Messenger's armature assembled in preparation for public work sessions starting Wednesday September 26th on West Fourth Street in front of WFHB.

  • volunteer holds red plastic heart

    Image 15 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    A volunteer holds the red plastic heart that will glow at night from the center of the open book the Messenger will be holding.

  • woman jigsawing

    Image 16 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    One volunteer jigsaws metal during a community work day for the Messenger project.

  • jeffrey morris holds plates

    Image 17 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Volunteer Jeffrey Morris displays donated license plates.

  • cut out metal faces

    Image 18 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The Messenger will feature interlocking faces--one male, one female.

  • array of traffic signs

    Image 19 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Traffic signs will become components of The Messenger.

  • the messenger under contruction, halo stage

    Image 20 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Originally the halo was to be a bicycle rim, but the sculpture's heads became too big in proportion. Instead, LaMantia used a couple of steel rings from the Fairview Cat project that were to scale. A traffic sign will be placed inside the rim.

  • volunteer draws design for face

    Image 21 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    One collaborator draws the design for one of the sculpture's faces.

  • a child signs the back of a metal

    Image 22 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The Angel Project has come together with the help of the very youngest members of the community.

  • volunteer rivets metal feather to sculpture

    Image 23 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    A volunteer rivets a metal feather to the Messenger.

  • angel sculpture being assembled

    Image 24 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The Messenger's head, body and wings came together in mid-October.

  • a youngster signs her name

    Image 25 of 38

    Photo: courtesy Joe LaMantia

    A young volunteer adds her imprimatur to the Messenger.

  • a school group visits

    Image 26 of 38

    Photo: courtesy Joe LaMantia

    A school group visits the worksite.

  • Bernadette Pace holds license plates.

    Image 27 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Bernadette Pace of the Bloomington High Flyers displays license plates she's contributed to the Angel Project.

  • Attaching the heart

    Image 28 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The heart that occupies the center of the open book the figure will hold has a sensor that will allow it to glow at night.

  • work site where angel sculpture is being assembled

    Image 29 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The work site for the Angel Project is located in front of community radio station WFHB on West Fourth Street between Walnut and College.

  • the elements of the figure's face and head being clamped together

    Image 30 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The elements of the figure's face and head are clamped together.

  • female side in profile

    Image 31 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The figure's female side is embellished with curls cut from metal signs.

  • Jim Kirkham and son display a feather

    Image 32 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Jim Kirkham and his son stop by the Angel Project site to add their touch. Kirkham is the longtime coach of the "Cutters" team in the Little 500.

  • male side of figure's head

    Image 33 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    The male side of the figure's head in construction.

  • scrap metal to be used in construction of the angel sculpture

    Image 34 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Street signs and other recycled materials are being used in construction of the Messenger.

  • the roller skates are being attached to the sculpture

    Image 35 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    A volunteer attaches a "roller skate" cut out of metal street signs to the angel sculpture.

  • close up of messenger's face

    Image 36 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    By the end of the first week of November, the Messenger's face has been cleaned up in preparation for installation.

  • student at career center cuts out letters

    Image 37 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    A student at the Hoosier Hills Career Center cuts donated license plates to separate the letters to spell the words of compassion.

  • letters that have been cut out from license plates

    Image 38 of 38

    Photo: Joe LaMantia

    Letters cut from license plates will spell out the words of compassion in the open book to be held by the figure.

Event Information

Public Work Sessions for The Messenger

Residents are invited to collaborate in The Messenger, a sculpture slated to be installed along the B-line Trail at Allen Street in mid-November.


West Fourth Street, between Walnut and College, Bloomington

Weekdays, 9 am-5 pm

A haven for joggers, skaters, and cyclists in Bloomington will soon have its own guardian angel. The newest addition to the parade of artwork that lines the B-Line Trail is a ten-by-ten foot relief sculpture of an angel made from recycled metal.

Repurposed road signs, license plates, bicycle parts, and roller-skate wheels will combine with aluminum and galvanized steel in The Messenger, as the B-Line angel is being called.    The halo, for instance, will  be a bicycle wheel, superimposed on a circular, reflective yellow sign.  “So when you see the head,” artist Joe LaMantia explains, “you’re going to see this glow, like the aura angels have around them.”

With its various references to recreational activity, The Messenger will be well placed along the city’s multi-use trail.  But there’s a calm center in the midst of all that coming and going:  the angel holds open a book, to reveal a red  heart.  At night, a light sensor mounted behind the heart will cause it to glow.

Words of compassion suggested by community members and spelled out in scrambled license plate letters will surround the heart on the book’s open pages. A self-described collaborative artist–whose most prominent recent project was creating the prototype for the 22 fiberglass brains decorated by area artists for Jill Bolte Taylor’s Brain Extravaganza—LaMantia is emphatic about bringing the community into the art-making process.

After LaMantia has constructed the sculpture’s armature using salvaged metal cut by students from the Hoosier Hills Career Center, volunteers can drop by public work sessions  to rivet metal letters and “feathers” to the piece.

Chuck Forney, owner of the aptly named “Auto Heaven” has agreed to have the angel suspended from the side of his building overlooking the B-line trail at Allen Street. The Messenger will serve as a memorial to Jeannie Walters, a longtime realty business owner in Bloomington who passed away in 2011.

Monetary donations to complete the sculpture are being accepted through the Center for Sustainable Living. The public work sessions are slated to take place in late September on Fourth Street, between Walnut and College in downtown Bloomington.

Yaël Ksander

WFIU's Arts Desk Editor, Yaël seeks out and shepherds the stories of artists, musicians, writers, and other creative people. In addition, Yaël co-hosts A Moment of Science, writes essays for A Moment of Indiana History, produces Speak Your Mind (WFIU's guest editorial segment), hosts music and news hours throughout the week, and lends her voice to everything from accounting courses to nature documentaries. Yaël holds a MFA in painting from Indiana University, an MA in art history from Columbia University, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where she studied languages and literature.

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  • Luzia

    What a beautiful idea! I love it.

  • Jarno

    I love the B-Line Trail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This will be awesome!I like the Fairview cat sculpture.My hand is on it.Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jarno

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