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Wassenberg to add Bendele sculpture PDF Print E-mail
Monday, April 01, 2013 7:47 AM


VAN WERT - Another addition to the new location of the Wassenberg Art Center was unveiled on Thursday.

Enhancing the entrance at 214 S. Washington St. will be a steel sculpture archway portal which will be crafted by sculptor Michael Bendele of Delphos. Bendele was on hand Thursday with a model of the work which will rise to a total height of 12 feet on either side of the sidewalk leading to the entrance of the former Van Wert Armory Building which will soon become the new art center.


“[Wassenberg Executive Director] Hope [Wallace] and I first started talking last November sometime. It just seems like there’s been a lot of effort put into preserving the architectural history of the building that this made a nice outward sign for the repurposing,” Bendele stated.


First Federal Savings and Loan stepped up to provide funding to make the work a reality. The entrance gate will take at least a couple of months to construct. It will be an offset piece meant to mark a portal into the building.

Bendele remarked, “With it being offset, if you look straight onto it, it makes kind of a Gothic arch. And because it is offset, it becomes a passage, a transition from the street.”

The model gives an idea of what the final piece will resemble but Bendele noted that it was meant to be seen as a rough sketch, and that as he makes the sculpture he will make improvements and refinements.

The former armory is going through plenty of improvements at present. From the outside, passersby can see work being done to put a new roof on the facility. Inside the facility the work is also continuing. Much of the floor has been cleaned and is awaiting the rest of the work to catch up. The interior yellow blocks walls in the hallway and the drill hall have had a cleaning and shining as well, revealing a little more of what the facility will look like at completion.

Inside the large hall, preparations are underway for the gallery walls. No new walls will be added, allowing use of the huge room for a variety of purposes with plenty of gallery space. The old interior ceiling tile is gone now and one new lighting fixture is already in place with many more to follow.

Renovations are also being made to a future classroom, offices, and a community room inside the structure. Wallace pointed out that as many old lighting fixtures are being repurposed to serve the building in a more efficient way. Other bits and pieces of the armory are bring reused also. Some of the old steel from the windows are being turned into counters for the rest rooms. According to Wallace, the age and the style of the building lends itself to opening up more possibilities in furnishing and decorating.

“One of the things about this building is it doesn’t have a strong style, so we’re allowed to have some fun with it,” she said.

When the agreement to move the Wassenberg Art Center into the former armory building was announced last year, a June 1 completion date was established as a possible goal. But according to Van Wert County Foundation Executive Secretary Larry Wendel, it does not look like work will be done that quickly.

“Sometime this summer,” he predicted on Thursday. “It is a work in progress. When you do something like this, you always run into things. We’ll have a better handle on it by the end of April. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Pictured: Representatives of the Wassenberg Art Center pose with a model of the new artwork which will be installed in the new art center. The work is of Michael Bendele, a sculptor of Delphos. First Federal Savings and Loan of Van wert is helping finance the endeavor. Pictured are, from left, First Federal Savings and Loan of Van Wert President Brian Renner, Van Wert County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger, Van Wert County Foundation Board member and former president of First Federal Savings and Loan Mike Cross, Wassenberg Art Center Board of Directors President Terry Eikenbary, art center Executive Director Hope Wallace, Van Wert County Foundation Executive Director Larry Wendel and sculptor Michael Bendele.


Last Updated on Monday, April 01, 2013 9:17 AM

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