Arlon Bayliss and bo-mar Industries: Creating an Artistic Tribute to Classic Cars of Indiana
Table of Contents
This month, we are pleased to feature on our cover, two members of the creative team behind the four new roundabout (RAB) sculptures, “Classic Cars of Indiana,” that will be installed throughout the 96th Street Corridor—Arlon Bayliss and Robert “Bob” Buchanan. Bob Buchanan and his brother, Mark, own bo-mar Industries who along with Bayliss’ renowned artistic design, created a few other extraordinary RAB sculptures in Carmel including the “Homage to Hoagy” in front of the Palladium that we featured in Carmel Monthly in the Feb. 2020 issue.
Bayliss trained at the Royal College of Art in London, England, and his gallery glass artwork is in museums and private collections worldwide. His public art projects include community-based, collaborative outdoor works and large-scale interior architectural installations using dynamic forms and compositions in steel, glass and light. He is a broadly accomplished artist, designer and educator.
Honoring The Hoosier State’s Contribution to Automotive Ingenuity
In the early 1900s there were more than 100 automobile manufacturers in Indiana. Many of them are recognized as iconic expressions of invention and ingenuity in the history of the American automobile.
The city of Carmel commissioned Bayliss and the bo-mar team to create four RAB sculptures that will celebrate Indiana’s classic cars in an unprecedented display along the 96th Street Corridor—each [unique] sculpture will feature artistic interpretations of the classic cars Marmon, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg (ACD), Stutz and Studebaker – each of which were designed and built in Indiana during the first half of the 20th century when America first began its affinity with automobiles.
The sculptures will become the focal point of the RABs located at Priority Way, Delegates Row, Gray Road and Hazel Dell Parkway and are scheduled to be unveiled in 2022 and 2023 with the first being a tribute to Marmon and The Marmon Wasp.
“Great public art is an important part of our mission in Carmel to create a city that stands apart for its beauty and quality of life,” said Mayor Jim Brainard. “As this corridor is home to so many automobile dealerships, we felt it would be appropriate to celebrate the beauty and genius of Indiana’s classic cars and the remarkable contributions they made to the industry.”
Brainard continued, “The 96th Street corridor is our boundary with Indianapolis, and it is important for our tax base that this area continues to thrive. Coming shortly after our investments in creating better traffic flow along this thoroughfare, this project will solidify the 96th Street corridor as the premiere place to shop for and buy cars in the Midwest.”
The cost of the sculptures will be $2.5 million and will be paid out of TIF bonds approved by the Carmel City Council.
Art and Automobiles
The four “Classic Cars of Indiana” sculptures refer to a common theme, however, to echo the variety and creativity seen in Indiana’s Classic Cars, Bayliss has approached each sculpture differently in form and content. One is inspired by an elegant hood ornament, one by the flowing outline drawings of a prolific car designer, one by the world’s most famous race car and another by a celebrated logo design.
To focus on the first sculpture being installed—featuring the Marmon Wasp—Bayliss and Buchanan shared how the abstracted sculpture of the vehicle slants dynamically forward. To further emphasize speed, the open-framed artwork is lifted, sitting only on its rear wheels, so that the front wheels rise off the sculpture pedestal.
The rectangular base is finished in Indiana limestone and original bricks from the famed Brickyard. The sculpture and base together will measure around 25 feet long and more than 12 feet high. Like the Marmon Wasp, the sculpture will be painted yellow and black, its powder-coated framework will be illuminated at night.
“When we were in the process of working on the ‘Homage to Hoagy’ sculpture, the mayor [Brainard] asked me to think about four automobile themed sculptures for roundabouts on the 96th Street ‘car’ corridor,” Bayliss shared. “Over a period of weeks and months, we discussed some options and came up the exciting theme, ‘Classic Cars of Indiana.’”
Bayliss said that the concept was a “no brainer” given the rich Indiana history of classic cars. He said the only problem was, “We only have 4 roundabouts and so much to celebrate in terms of creativity and innovation!”
In terms of designing the four sculptures so that they could actually be fabricated, Bayliss consulted with his creative team at bo-mar Industries.
“I don’t do any proposals without speaking to Bob,” Bayliss reiterated. “He is a creative partner—not just the fabricator. I only propose [ideas] that I know are going to be possible to make. The Marmon Wasp [sculpture] will be 1.5 times the size of the original car.”
Buchanan added, “We built it like the model cars we put together when we were kids. We would go to the grocery store and if we were ‘good boys’ our mother would let us get the model car of the week. Mark [Buchanan] and I couldn’t wait to get home and break the pieces off that were numbered. We’d swap engines and tires. So, for us, it started at an early age for us.”
Their passion for cars and attention to detail was the fuel for putting the pieces together for this particular project and creating an extraordinary artwork that exemplifies the teams’ talent, creativity and love of their trade.
“It’s been fun because the guys are just as ecstatic and they’re all taking ownership,” Buchanan expressed. “It’s been a total team effort. This is the most fun we’ve had on a project in a long time.”
Combining Efforts To Preserve Indiana’s Automobile History
As the city of Carmel and the Artomobilia team prepare to celebrate Artomobilia’s 15th anniversary, it makes sense that the dots are being connected between the “Classic Cars of Indiana” project, and people who are as enthusiastic about cars and educating people about the Hoosier contributions to the auto industry and auto racing throughout the last century.
Amber Caccamo, Executive Director DeKalb County Visitors Bureau, will be attending Artomobilia for the first time this year. Caccamo has ran The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival— a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate and promote automobile heritage—that takes place in Auburn, Indiana. The ADC Festival will be returning after a hiatus due to the pandemic this Labor Day Weekend. Caccamo has been exploring ways to collaborate with the Artomobilia committee to connect more people to the respective events, the ACD Museum in Auburn, and introduce more people to the car culture in general.
Caccamo was ecstatic to learn about the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Sculpture that will be installed in Carmel. She shared that Duesenberg won the Indianapolis 500 in 1924, 1925 and 1927 and is approaching the 100th anniversary of that first win.
“History and art have such a connection,” Caccamo stated. “When you start having conversations with people and you realize that connectivity that cars hold within the car culture—especially in Indiana—it’s just amazing. I love the artistic piece because so much of our ACD Museum is based around art deco. People who don’t even like cars come to the museum to see the art deco, the concrete poured floors and artistic works, the lights and everything. I think there is a resurgence of car shows and car culture. There’s been a complete revival and people who never thought they would be interested [in the car culture] all of a sudden are.”
For more information about the ACD Museum, ACD Festival and other automotive attractions in DeKalb County, visit dekalbcvb.org.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the 15th Annual Artomobilia in Carmel, Indiana. Artomobilia will be held Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Carmel Arts & Design District and is free to the public.
For the complete 2022 Artomobilia schedule and other related information, visit artomobilia.org.
Marmon — Indianapolis [1851-1933]
Marmon Sculpture #1: 96th Street and Priority Way
The Wasp has been featured on two national postage stamps and is inarguably one of the most famous race cars of all time as it was the first winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Its driver, Ray Harroun, of Anderson, Indiana, was an engineer and among other innovations, the Wasp introduced the world to the first rear-view mirror; eliminating the need for a mechanic to ride along as was customary at that time.
Auburn — Auburn [1900-1937]
The art deco influenced 851 Boattail Speedster was the first stock American car guaranteed to exceed 100 miles per hour in stock form.
Cord — Auburn and Connersville [1929-1937]
E.L. Cord introduced an exciting and innovative high-performance luxury car in the late 1920s and pioneered front-wheel drive, concealed headlights and the steering mounted horn.
Duesenberg — Indianapolis [1928-1937]
“The American Rolls Royce.” The fastest American car before WWII, Duesenberg Special Sportster Model J would outrun an Aston Martin DB5 or Mercedes Gullwing produced two decades later.
Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Sculpture #2: 96th Street and Delegates Row
Stutz — Indianapolis [1911-1939]
Stutz Sculpture #3: 96th Street and Gray Road
Stutz pioneered the transaxle and a safer, better handling low-slung chassis, and in 1911 he entered his new car in the first Indianapolis 500-mile race. The car placed 11th out of 22 entrants.
Studebaker — South Bend [1852-1967]
Studebaker Sculpture #4: 96th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway
Studebaker produced vehicles for over 100 years. They pioneered many safety features such as front disc brakes. One of their logo designs became a mid-century design classic — the lazy “S.”