COLUMBUS, Ind. -- She's known for a creation that hints at an exuberant dancer.
And Chicago sculptor Ruth Aizuss Migdal felt nearly ready to dance herself last summer when she heard that Columbus residents planned to raise at least $40,000 total - now with $22,000 more to go - to buy her abstract, stainless steel work known as "Flamenco" at Fourth and Washington streets in front of The Commons in Columbus.
"That couldn't be better," Migdal said of the development that she said remains unusual with her pieces. "And it's especially nice because Columbus, Indiana, is very special - and a highly respected place. Everyone knows Columbus' fine architecture and how interested in art the people are.
"So I'm extra thrilled that they like my work. This has all been a marvelous surprise for me."
Residents and donors will gather with the 83-year-old Migdal at 6:30?p.m. May 13 for a Spanish-style fundraiser, "Fire & Grace," inside The Commons to garner more support to add the six-year-old, 14-foot-tall, flaming red "Flamenco" to the city's permanent art collection.
The push to buy the piece, brought here in June 2014 as part of the Columbus Area Arts Council's Sculpture Biennial, began in August. The first donation came in October, according to Geri Handley, the leader of the local fundraising committee.
Similarly, a local drive raised more than $35,000 in 2007 to buy Dessa Kirk's "Eos" winged woman sculpture near the entrance to Mill Race Park.
The upcoming event, in keeping with the theme, will feature FlamencĂ"le, a flamenco dance troupe from Indianapolis and Spanish guitarist Albert Nolting. A tapas buffet and cash bar will be available.
"It's going to be a great party," the sculptor said.
While Migdal sounds excited about the event, she's almost too busy for now to think about it much. She's in the midst of installing her 27-foot-tall piece "Red Tree" on Chicago's Lakeshore Drive.
"There's no question it will stand out - especially as a red tree surrounded by green trees," she said with a laugh.
Blogs and websites show that her creativity stands out among sculptors. Fans of her efforts praise many of her works for the large dancing figures expressing independence, strength and a lust for life.
Handley mentioned that the artist radiates a genuine zest herself.
"In a sense, Ruth conveys the same spirit as her sculptures," Handley said. "Talking to her is a joy and gives you the perception she has and does embrace life."
Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus and a fan of public art, can see how the piece would fit nicely as a permanent part of downtown.
"'Flamenco' is a bright and vibrant addition to Washington Street," McCoy said. "The idea of a flamenco dancer in perpetual twirl makes for a fun encounter."
Currently, a group in Champaign, Illinois, has launched a fundraising push to buy Migdal's 21-piece sculpture "Flamenco Revisited," temporarily installed there. She said the work actually is unrelated to the sculpture here and should have been named differently.
Migdal, trained as a painter beginning at age 15 and self-taught as a sculptor, mentioned that she is open-ended about viewers' reactions to "Flamenco," or their interpretations.
"I just want people to feel a sense of freedom of dance," she said. "I have no rules. And I've found that different people often respond to art so differently. What I'm really glad about is that when people see my sculpture, they're very happy.
"For me, it's actually about women's freedom and independence and joy and strength. It's a clarion call that we can do it, too, and I'll show you."
Source: The (Columbus) Republic, http://bit.ly/1rzCThJ
Information from: The Republic, http://www.therepublic.com/