Wabash Valley Art Spaces: Turn to the River Project

If you haven’t heard of Wabash Valley Art Spaces, chances are you’ve seen some of the projects they’ve designed that have shaped the landscape of Terre Haute.  The organization formed in 2003 through the efforts of dedicated volunteers and they currently have 18 unique-specific public sculptures throughout town that add meaning and interest to public spaces.

One specific design you may know very well, is the the sculpture of a life-long Terre Haute resident, poet & philosopher, Max Ehrmann (He’s the bronze statue sitting on a bench at the corner of 7th & Wabash).

Sculpture of Max Ehrmann

He often wrote near the corner of 7th & Wabash, where he drew inspiration from the sights, sounds, and people of Terre Haute.  The artist behind this sculpture is Bill Wolfe.  Ehrmann is known throughout the world for “Desiderata” and other poems.  I admit, I had never read this famous poem before writing this post, but it is something beautiful that must be shared.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c. 1920

Other collections include: Composite House for Terre Haute, Tree, Spirit of Space, Gatekeeper, Light of Hope & Healing, A Chorus of Trumpets, & many others.

If you are interested in learning about all of the collections available to visit, you can check them out here.  I highly recommend checking out the art in our community that is easily accessible and free to view by the public.

I most recently attended the “Picnic at the Plaza” that was put on by this group specifically to bring awareness about an exciting project coming to Terre Haute.  Art Spaces is currently working on the Turn to the River project.

This project “is a comprehensive multi-year project to reconnect downtown Terre Haute with the Wabash River through public art and design.” The project is focusing on a 4-square block that includes City Hall, the Vigo County Courthouse, & the Vigo County Security Center.  A designed walkway will lead people over 3rd street on a pedestrian bridge through this area to the river.


At the river a public green space with an overlook and possibly a performance structure will be designed.

They would also like to turn the city parking lot into a space for public weekend events such as Farmer’s Markets, Arts & Festivals, and other community events.

Art Spaces has been recommended for a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant of $75,000 that would help them move forward with the Design Development Phase this fall.  It is estimated to completely done in 10 years, but progress for the area will be made in the next few years. If you would like to receive email updates, provide feedback on this project, or find out all the details and progress projections click here .

Follow us on Facebook or check out our events page for future events that help contribute to the community we live in and don’t forget to “always take the scenic route”!


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