Coming Together

Ohio sculptor Majors delivers
on future Bicentennial sculpture

The sculpture will be an inviting park bench for visitors

(May 2019) – Mike Major, a renowned sculptor from Ohio, arrived in Madison, Ind. on April 23 with an eight-foot-long park bench strapped in the bed of his black Ford F-150 crew-cab truck. Not just any park bench, it was a park bench with bronze sculptures of a whimsical piglet reading to two children.
This park bench was a sneak preview of the Bicentennial Sculpture to be installed at the entrance of Madison Bicentennial Park later this spring.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Ohio sculptor Mike Majors poses with figures that will be part of the Madison Bicentennial Sculpture. He delivered the pieces to town on April 23.

It has been almost one year since Major was commissioned to create a sculpture to commemorate Madison’s 200th Anniversary, which was celebrated in 2009. The design celebrates Indiana “firsts,” such as the first railroad, first state bank, first volunteer fire department, as well as the steamboats, hydroplanes, pork packing industry and cultural arts that have defined Madison’s rich history.
Winner of the Bicentennial Sculpture contest, Major, 68, had presented his vision to the Bicentennial Committee on June 6, 2018. The bench design serves to invite visitors to join the children on the bench – perhaps to read a book or perhaps as a fun photo-op. Majors believes everyone will enjoy sitting with the children and the piglet.
The second part of the sculpture is a rendition of a steamboat smokestack. Describing the overall design, Major said, “One of the most interesting challenges of the project was incorporating 13 elements that represent Madison.” Most of those elements have been incorporated into the smokestack design.
The piglet and children are constructed of cast bronze with a patina created by acids for the bronze faces of the children. The colors for the piglet and the children’s clothing are created with pigments applied with heat and then glazed. The piglet symbolizes the booming pork industry in Madison’s history. Through Major’s expert craftsmanship, the eyes of the children sparkle through the bronze medium. The bronze medium also conveys the fine details of the fabric on the children’s clothing and the texture of the piglet.
Jan Vetrhus, chair of the Bicentennial Committee, said, “The bench will be the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view.” She noted that during the recent Student Government Day at the Madison City Hall on April 16, students of Shannon Barger’s 2019 Government Class filed a request to encourage the City of Madison to create more spaces promoting art. As a result, the Madison City Council adopted a three-part response, Resolution 2019-37, to support the request. The installation of the Bicentennial Sculpture this spring will be immediate, tangible evidence of that support.  

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Madison Bicentennial chairwoman Jan Vetrhus poses with sculptor Mike Majors as he delivers pieces of the future sculpture. It will go up later this spring.

This bench will remain in storage until the site preparation for the sculpture is completed, Vetrhus said. Although the final installation date has not yet been established, this sneak preview of the bench is a tantalizing teaser for the excitement of seeing the finished sculpture. 

Major is a native of Pleasant Hill, Ohio, who now resides and works in Urbana, Ohio. He studied at the Dayton Art Institute. His art education continued at Ohio University. During graduate school at the Pratt Institute in New York in the 1970s and ’80s, he found a job in a publishing company using his graphic design skills. That early training later proved useful, even as he focused more intently on his art. Drawings progressed to paintings, then to printmaking in his master’s program. He later served as the Ohio “artist in residence” for the Ohio Arts Council, which led to a career as a fulltime artist.

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