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Milton-Madison Bridge
subject of new artistic contest

Artists, writers encouraged
to capture bridge essence

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(September 2010) – Madison, Ind., folks don’t give up their landmarks easily, even when the landmark is a 80-year-old highway bridge that is inadequate for modern traffic.
The U.S. Hwy. 421 bridge between Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky., is scheduled to have its superstructure removed within the next year, as part of a $131 million replacement project. While most local residents agree the project is long overdue, there is growing nostalgia for the old bridge – even before it is removed.

Milton-Madison Bridge

Photo by Don Ward

Local merchants in Madison, Ind.,
are sponsoring a bridge art contest
of the Milton-Madison Bridge.

In that spirit, the Madison Main Street Program is sponsoring an art competition that seeks to capture the bridge image in a drawing, painting, photograph, sculpture, music, poetry or other mode of expression. Entries can be delivered to the Artisans Gallery by Thursday, Sept. 16. There is no entry fee. A prize will go to the best entry, as determined by exhibition visitors. There will be separate categories for young adults and children. Anyone can enter.
Entries must be in a presentable form that can be displayed. Photographs and paintings must be framed. Writing and music scores can be mounted on rigid board. Music can be submitted on compact disk or MP3.
The resulting exhibition will open Friday, Sept. 24, at The Artisans Gallery, 325 E. Main St.
Bob Maile, owner of The Artisans Gallery, described the competition as “the last chance to get images of the bridge before they tear it down.” The idea was conceived by Rhonda Deeg, executive director of the Madison Main Street Program, and Bob Saueressig, former Main Street Program board member. Saueressig is also an artist and the gallery director for The Artisans Gallery.
Saueressig said the exhibition is “a fitting way to emphasize the importance of what the bridge is.” He pointed out that the bridge location was a crossing point long before the bridge was built. “It’s a destination and also a departure point.” He invited all creative people to challenge their imaginations to record their thoughts about the bridge.
The public is invited to vote on a favorite entry when visiting the art gallery between Sept. 24 and Oct. 28. The “Bridging the River” exhibition will be open through Thursday, Oct. 28, when the “People’s Choice” winner and other awards will be announced at a reception at the gallery.
In addition to the prize, the top entry will be used in the “Buy Local Madison” campaign that the Madison Main Street Program will use during the bridge closure and in the months leading up to it.
Main Street Program is receiving $80,000 in federal mitigation funds to minimize the closure’s impact on Madison’s commercial district. Main Street Program also receives funding from the Indiana Arts Commission to support its arts projects, such as Music in the Park and the Fourth Friday Art and Shop Hop.
Saueressig said there has been a good response to the call for entries. Based on what has been submitted, he expects more photographs than originally anticipated – including historical photos of bridge construction in 1929. One woman, for example, plans to submit a photograph of her father. An engineer, he was photographed in diving gear preparing to inspect the bridge pilings. Because he thinks there will be great interest in the historical photos, Saueressig wants to add a special category for them.
Area residents are sure to experience a surge of nostalgia for the Milton-Madison bridge as it approaches its last days, Saueressig thinks. It’s that character of an 80-year-old landmark that Saueressig hopes will be captured in the “Bridging the River” competition and exhibition.

• For more information about “Bridging the River,” contact the Madison Main Street Program at (812) 265-3270 or The Artisans Gallery at (812) 273-0552 or (812) 273-5050.

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