Behind the Sculpture: 'Ward'

"Ward" By Brian Bickel

Sculpture name: "Ward"

Artist: Brian Bickel

Details: The spherical sculpture can be found in front of Edward Jones on the south side of the 200 block of Main Street.

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Brian Bickel finds inspiration for his sculptures in his family's heating and cooling business that began in 1913 and closed in 2013.

"My dad and grandpa were meticulous in their duct work, and I learned some of what I do being an apprentice over the years," said Bickel, a resident of Pleasant Hill, Iowa, (a suburb of Des Moines), who learned about the Art on the Corner exhibit through callforentry.com (also know as CaFÉ), a website where artists can apply to open-art calls around the nation.

Although there were a lot of artists in his family, Bickel didn't pursue art as part of his education. It wasn't until he started to put things together — pipe and wood, nuts and bolts — making lamps and tables as a hobby, that the art thing clicked.

"Ward" was inspired by the arching and clear-cut form of The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, he said. The centerpiece of "Ward" is a Civil War cannonball weighing a hefty 42 pounds from Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

The cannonball is "stationed there in a safe environment," Bickel said, surrounded by pipes and connectors, some rusted and some not.

The sculpture's title has several connotations, the first being Pennsylvania-based Ward Manufacturing LLC, a pipe-fitting company started in 1924 — Bickel likes to use all American-made products in his sculptures.

And, a "ward" is an entity that watches over or protects something.

The cannonball is "kind of a weapon in a safe place — a reflection of what we need to do in the greater world these days," Bickel said.