BY BILL WEAVER
A century after artists T.C. Steele and Adolph Shulz first walked the Brown County hills in search of primal landscapes, the town of Nashville has created an Arts and Entertainment District to promote the art colony they inspired, and that continues to thrive.
They’ve commissioned a large steel sculpture to be placed at the center of town, near the Visitors Center at West Main and North Van Buren streets. “The idea of the sculpture is to serve as the gateway to the Nashville Arts and Entertainment District,” says Tom Tuley, chairman of the Nashville Arts and Entertainment Commission.
With the help of Three Sixty Group, a public relations company in Indianapolis, a design for the 15-foot structure was agreed upon, one of swirling autumn leaves caught in a sudden updraft. But who would construct it?
That’s when Elder Heart stepped in.
Elder Heart is a veterans organization that uses the making of art to help veterans reconnect with the their communities and to educate the public about the problems of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), veteran homelessness, and suicide.
“Art’s the tool to do that,” says Magnus Johnson, president of Elder Heart and a special forces veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. “The key thing is not the art but the fact that the veterans are sharing something positive,” he says. “We continue to be stewards for the community by continuing to give.”
With the help of local artist Jim Connor, who is coordinating the project, they hope to construct the piece by this summer. “More veterans have died from suicide than were killed in the war,” says Connor. “It’s ‘warriors helping warriors,’” he adds, echoing one of Elder Heart’s talking points. “But it’s also the community working with vets. If people communicate with them and understand, then we can share their burden.”
“The reason why we’re doing it,” adds Johnson, “is because there are 22 veteran suicides a day. We have to start setting the example of what needs to happen. This is a way we can do that in a public light, in a positive light, a creative light. I’m excited about making this sculpture.”