You Can’t Spell “Elkhart” Without “Art”. Or “Hart”. Or “Elk”.

HEART Proverbs 4-23!

Or if we’re anagramming, in Elkhart you can also find “heart”, “heat”, “earth”, “talker”, “hater”, “lathe”, “kale”…

My wife and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2016 birthday destination of choice: the northern Indiana city of Elkhart, with a bonus stopover in South Bend, both some 100+ miles north of here. Elkhart was regrettably cut a little short because the weather was miserable and tried to freeze us in our tracks, but we had enough fun to fill out another four-part miniseries starring a candy factory tour, a super-hero roadside attraction, and a selection of the “art” in Elkhart. Also, food.

Part Three of Four: a tour of the art of downtown Elkhart, which of course has deer statues, because “elk”. And “hart”, which is a bit more obscure except maybe to fans of Angel. And the sound of “heart” alone likewise doesn’t go unmentioned.

HEART City With A!

Caution: pretty city map may not be to scale.

Each time we stroll through a small-town downtown, we like to look for neat art, eye-popping installations, creative uses of public spaces, the occasional mural, and whatever interesting businesses might open their doors to curious strangers like us. Sadly this tour was lacking in store interactions because (a) downtown Elkhart had less than we thought, and (b) we were underdressed for the cold snap that chilled us to the bone and dampened our enthusiasm for exploration. Elkhart is planning a large exhibition of pretty flower gardens to begin at the end of May, but that did us no good when we arrived 2½ weeks early. I can’t help that — my birthday weekend is when it is. So we observed as much as we could within a reasonable distance from our car.

Those were the hearts in our path. These were the elks.

ELK Movie Usher!

Movie Usher Elk welcomes you to the show and hopes you enjoy the next 20 minutes of “SHUT OFF YOUR STUPID PHONE” ads.

ELK Nature!

Nature Lover Elk is naturally in the middle of a grassy field.

ELK Orange Lessons!

Happy Orange Elk loves children and gives them life lessons if they stop and pay attention.

ELK Elkini & Artii!

Barfly Elk advertises a fake animal-pun liquor that would be Captain Carrot’s sauce of choice.

The art’s not limited to free-standing sculptures. Many towns have found that decorating their electrical boxes in some fashion besides gunmetal gray is a graffiti deterrent and generally improves outdoor ambiance. Elkhart has taken to the trend in its own way.

BOX Train!

Electric train!

BOX Jazz Sax!

Electric saxophone!

BOX Dancers!

Electric dance troupe!

BOX Nature Bridge!

Electric bridge to electric nature!

BOX Mansion Rooms!

Electric mansions!

BOX Mansion Outside!

Electric neighborhoods!

Silent intermission for fire-‘n’-police memorial.

Fire + Police Memorial.

Art’s also on the walls of a few businesses with the proper mural space.

MURAL Elkhart!

Elkhart: a pictorial history.

MURAL Purple!

Purple. Purple’s a mural. (Regrettable shrubbery placement made it impossible to get a head-on shot of the whole thing.)

MURAL Jazz Band!

Jazz band taking us back to ol’ New Orleans again.

MURAL Abstract!

Abstract mural, for the finicky patron who’s tired of murals with Presidents or animals on them.

MURAL Train Band!

Band vs. Train: Race of Unfairness

Part of our route took us along Elkhart’s own Riverwalk, always a neat feature in cities and towns that have them. Theirs has few businesses along its banks, as the Elkhart River is a block away from Main Street downtown, but a few items share the space.

ART RiverWalk!

We’ve also visited Riverwalks in San Antonio (2005), Pueblo (2012), and Milwaukee (2014), among probably others.

ART Marching Band!

One suspects Elkhart likes bands of all stripes and sizes.

ART Duke Silver!

BEST OF SHOW: this fabulous statue of Duke Silver from Parks & Recs, as far as I’m concerned, regardless of artist’s intent.

…and then we fled to the car and warmed up again. That was our last stop in Elkhart, but our day wasn’t over yet. To be concluded!

4 responses

    • We spotted most of these just while walking up and down the length of Main Street through downtown. The weather was lousy on this particular day, but they had definitely put a lot of effort into their scenery.


  1. I’ve lived in Elkhart several times and enjoy their love of music & art. Several musical instrument companies make Elkhart their home, and they have a glorious jazz fest in the summer. It is so much fun to go Elk-hunting and a map is probably available at the visitor’s bureau. The quilt garden is a tradition that is beautiful and fun.


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