Visitors to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory soon will be greeted by a new piece of public art. 

A sculpture dubbed Metavine will be built near the facility’s entrance at Jefferson and Calhoun streets, and the city’s parks board voted Thursday to move forward with plans for the nearly $100,000 project. 

Fort Wayne artist Cary Shafer designed the sculpture, which resembles a vine or a flower leading from a sign outside the conservatory to the entrance of the building. He said he wanted it “to have negative space so it doesn’t interfere with views.”

“The design fills a lot of space, but it does not block it,” he told parks board members, who agreed to pursue a $99,900 contract with Shafer. 

Most of the money for the sculpture was donated by The Journal Gazette Foundation. 

Metavine will be about 40 feet tall and about 55 feet long, Shafer said, and will be constructed from steel. 

Alec Johnson, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department deputy director of planning and development, said an idea for a vine-like sculpture at the conservatory first was floated about eight years ago. It could be in place by June, he said. 

Plans are being finalized. 

“I think it will be one of those landmark pieces,” parks board member Bill Zielke said. 

Shafer describes himself as “a classically trained stone carver,” according to his website, and has created public art pieces including Metaform, near Three Rivers Apartments on East Columbia Street. 

In other business, Parks Department Director Steve McDaniel said a ribbon-cutting will be Thursday for a walkway connecting the conservatory to Embassy Theatre. 

The $560,000 project provides visitors an enclosed pathway between the two buildings. Funding came from public and private sources.

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