Life's Better Here: Auburn 2012

By Eric Olson

June 27, 2012 Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM EDT

AUBURN, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Auburn Indiana’s been a wealthy town most of its life thanks mainly to its fabled 20th century automotive industry. In the 21st century Auburn’s auto industry is still strong, just altered...now in the form of a great automotive museum and, just as interesting, designer auto manufacturing like Auburnite Gary Babineau, who hand builds magnificent recreations of classic Indy race cars from the forties, fifties and sixties, this latest treasure a tribute to A. J. Foyt. And Auburn’s built on its prosperity, emphasizing education, culture and the arts. The best proof of which is the town’s wildly successful public arts projects. Three years ago Auburn brought in twenty lifelike statues by artist Seward Johnson and stationed them around the courthouse square. They drew 15-thousand out of town visitors over the summer, pumping a fortune into Auburn’s economy.

“The people love it,” says Auburnite Michelle Fox. “It just brings a lot of people in to Auburn around town visiting the different stores that are around they love to see the artwork and it just kind of spruces up Auburn.”

The statues were followed the next summer by boxes decorated by local artists, scattered around downtown, again, drawing a huge crowd. And 2012 is the year of the chair, 20 Adirondack chairs, decorated by local artists placed at various locations, most with stories to tell. This one highlights men and women who’ve helped shape auburn. The chairs will be auctioned off at summer’s end, the money to help the local arts commission fund next years public arts project…a lesson to other towns that art doesn’t just enhance the quality of life….it pays, too.

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