Eight Things About Don Gummer’s Southern Circle in Indianapolis

By Michelle Railey, Amos-Cola

1. Donald Gummer (b. 1946) was born in Kentucky but grew up in Indiana. He studied at both Ben Davis HS and Herron School of Fine Art (now part of Indiana University) in Indianapolis. He completed his studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Yale School of Art.

2. He is married to Meryl Streep and has four children, a musician Henry Wolfe, and three daughters who are actors: Mamie, Grace, and Louisa.

3. This sculpture is located in a quiet park area adjacent to the Rolls Royce Indianapolis campus. It is actually in a spot along Pogue’s Run: an urban creek that now runs underground. It now surfaces at and empties in the White River just southwest of Lucas Oil Stadium.

4. More significantly, the statue sits on the original central circle of Indianapolis on Meridian Street. It now stands as an echo, not only of the past, but of the present Monument Circle, which stands a few blocks to the north of the statue.

5. The sculpture, called Southern Circle, was completed in 2004. It stands 24 feet high and 9 by 9 feet. It is, literally, the southern circle of Indianapolis: it is south of Monument Circle and is the (more southerly placed) location of the original downtown circle of Indianapolis on Meridian Street.

6. Like many of Gummer’s sculptures, this piece combines metal and stained glass. It can be linked to constructivism, brutalism, and futurism. It also stands clearly as a link to Gummer’s interest in large outdoor public works.

Futurism by Giacomo Balla: three of his works from different decades demonstrating both motion in time as represented by circular motions. (Images collated from Wikimedia Commons)

7. Some of the notable artistic points of the sculpture include its mutability: depending on the viewpoint, the light, the weather, this sculpture changes appearance. The twinning of this piece with the circularity of Monument Circle and its position south, historically and literally, help to contribute to a sense of movement and acceleration when viewing the sculpture: the dimensions, light, glass, metal, and history all contribute (when walking around the piece) to a sense of transitory motion and, occasionally velocity. It has, rightfully, been compared to Indianapolis Speedway and the history of racing and speed in Indianapolis.

Monument Circle is, itself, obviously, a circle. The Soldiers and Sailors monument at its center, is also circular. But the round motif is also duplicated in the pools and fountains on the east and west sides of the monument. Like Gummer’s sculpture, concentric circles are a significant part of the design.

8. Just a little further south of Southern Circle is a companion piece, also in the small park next to Rolls Royce. It has no stained glass or informational plaque. It is the silent metal sister of Southern Circle and continues the echoing of circles across time, space, and dimension.

Please visit Don Gummer’s official artist page here.

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