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December 9, 2020 -- A new sculpture is now lighting up a Fort Wayne alley and giving people another reason to visit and enjoy downtown and its public spaces.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry this evening joined representatives of the Downtown Improvement District (DID), Art This Way, Kelty Tappy Design, Inc., the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission, Community Development staff and community volunteers to light the new sculpture, 77 Steps, in the alley between 113 and 127 West Berry St.

“This engaging new sculpture invites people into our downtown alley network to explore all the beautiful art our partners have worked hard to create and install,” said Mayor Henry. “I’m grateful for the dedication of the DID, Art This Way, the Public Art Commission and so many individuals who are transforming our alleyways into a destination for everyone to enjoy.”

The sculpture was designed by Kelty Tappy Design, Inc., a local architecture firm that has been in business since 1999. The design team includes Matt Kelty, Jeff Tappy, Nathan Abel, Ethan Anderson, Alejandro Flores, Sophie Vorndran and Nathan Walz.

Funding for the sculpture was provided as part of a grant from the Knight Foundation/Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne to the City of Fort Wayne and Art This Way donations. The following organizations provided volunteer labor and/or materials to assist with the installation of the sculpture: Northeast Indiana Building Trades, SMART Local 20, Dirig Sheet Metal, PreCon Projects, I.B.E.W. Local 305, Hi-Tech Electric Company, TriTech Mfg., Inc., and FWCS Career Academy Construction Trades. Project coordination was provided by DID/Art This Way and the Fort Wayne Planning and Policy Department.

The sculpture includes more than 300 hanging tubes filled with hundreds of programmable colored lights that run the full length of the 150-foot alley. It takes 77 steps to walk from one end of the alley to the other. Equity Investment and Aptera Software have agreed to support the installation on their buildings.

“It is really exciting to see this project go from the initial stages of the design competition all the way to completion,” said Nathan Walz, architectural intern for Kelty Tappy Design, Inc. “It certainly wouldn’t have come together without great people and teams working in collaboration to get it done. The downtown area has seen renewed vitality in recent years, and I think this sculpture can contribute to that growth. I have learned so much at Kelty Tappy Design and I’m excited to see what’s to come in the future!” 

Kelty’s design was selected in a competitive process called Off the Wall Sculpture Challenge. A committee with representatives from local arts organizations reviewed the submissions and selected the Kelty Tappy Design submission.

“Fort Wayne Downtown Improvement District and Art This Way endeavor to saturate target zones with artwork, and this particular space is part of our four-year effort to improve these pedestrian walkways. By placing art at the mouth of our alleyway network we beckon the viewer to enter and explore,” says Alexandra Hall, Manager of Art This Way and public art consultant. “77 Steps adds another dimension to this pedestrian zone, and we are excited to help bring this experience to Downtown Fort Wayne!"

The sculpture is part of the implementation of the City of Fort Wayne’s Downtown Public Realm Action Plan that is helping transforming several downtown alleys into welcoming spaces. One of those spaces is the Porch Off Calhoun, located in the parking spaces adjacent to the alley on Calhoun Street next to Pint ‘n Slice, 816 S. Calhoun St. The parking spaces were transformed into a welcoming gathering area with seating, planters, art and lighting.