MUNSTER – As head of production for Theatre at the Center in Munster, Ann Davis has taken the lead on many creative projects. With more than 15 years’ experience in the fine arts, she also has worked as a draftsperson, carpenter, painter and welder for the Art Institute of Chicago, The Apollo Theatre and Chamber Opera of Chicago. When asked to paint and decorate one of 50 owls being distributed as part of the Owl Public Art Project, she jumped at the chance to revisit her creative roots and at the same time, raise funds for a good cause.

“When I was asked if I would like to paint one of the owls, I was thrilled to do it,” Davis said. “Through the years I have brought many wild animals to Humane Indiana’s Munster shelter and Wildlife Center in Valparaiso and donated every month as well. At first, the owl reminded me of why I began working in the Arts, then it became so much more.”

Davis explained that the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, Inc. is the parent organization of The Center for Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). Since Theatre at the Center, South Shore Arts, the Arts Association and the Northwest Indiana Symphony as well as Trama Catering are all housed in the same building, she felt she should include representation from each entity within her owl.

“CVPA has blessed many people in Northwest Indiana as well as its own employees with the ability to lead thriving lives while doing what they love then sharing that love with others,” Davis said. “The title of this piece is Aesthetes. Aesthetes means ‘Guardian of the Arts,’ and that is precisely what the Foundation has done for so many grateful folks directly involved in the Center.”

The four-foot high, 50 pound fiberglass figure has been painted with brightly colored enamel and features musical notes, an opera curtain with fiberglass gusset, a monocle and a nature scene near its heart.

“The symphony and arts association were represented with music as musical notes embedded in the feathers,” Davis said. “The curtain that the owl wears is a simplified version of the Garnier

Paris Opera curtain that is world famous and a recognizable symbol for those who attend live-performance theatre. I felt the owl needed its heart area to be filled with nature so the little nature scene is actually a replica of a scene from Toy Theatre.”

“The back feathers of the owl have Emily Dickenson’s poem, ‘Hope is the Thing with Feathers’ wording set to music,” said Davis. This was for two reasons: all wisdom and inspiration come from a great hope that is nearly impossible to negate in the human experience. Once I knew that the owl would be at the Cancer Resource Centre, another CFNI entity for a few days; it made even more sense to me.”

“Hope’ is the thing with feathers-

That perches in the soul-

And sings the tune without the words-

And never stops-at all”

Pat Popa of Popa Heating & Cooling is a Humane Indiana board member and a life-long resident of Northwest Indiana. She is the chair of the organization’s 2019 Owl You Need is Love Public Owl Art project.

“I’m thrilled to be able to bring together the animal-loving community of Lake and Porter Counties,” Popa said. “The Owl You Need is Love project allows businesses and residents to sponsor an owl to be displayed for all to enjoy. This is a unique opportunity to support local artists, animal welfare and wildlife education. This project was made possible through a generous donation from the Arlene Heward Estate.”

Owls will be on display in local Lake and Porter businesses for the entirety of the exhibit from July 30 through October 15. Owls that have been sponsored, but not purchased, will be showcased at an auction in November where they will be sold as part of Humane Indiana’s fundraising efforts to support animals in their Munster shelter and Valparaiso wildlife center.

For more information about the Owl Art Tour through October 15, visit humaneindiana.org.

The CVPA owl is on display through October 15 at the center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. After that date, the owl will be relocated to its permanent home, The June Hawk Franklin Garden of Meditation and Healing at the Cancer Resource Centre, 926 Ridge Road, Munster.

For more information about The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, visit cvpa.org.