This photo illustration shows Pier Park in South Bend and the art that will replace the tunnel entrance. Provided image
This photo illustration shows Pier Park in South Bend and the art that will replace the tunnel entrance. Provided image
SOUTH BEND — This spring, 23-year-old local artist Cara Givens will seal off the gated tunnel opening at Pier Park, a dark and dank corner in this spot just across the foot bridge from Island Park at the Century Center.

The tunnel itself will no longer be visible. But, using mirrors and thin, embedded lights, Givens will install art that gives the illusion of a bright tunnel leading to infinity.

A soundscape of music and natural sounds, crafted by local musician Eli Kahn, will come from four speakers. Guitar notes and vocal oohs and aahs will blend with wind and water sounds, he said, plus recordings of engines from the era of water power that once functioned here at the dam.

The permanent art and music will add to basic upgrades coming to this tiny park that’s not much more than a place to sit beneath a few trees and watch the St. Joseph River: new picnic tables, benches, lights, waste cans and security features. But the funding for it, from three grants, will also add interactive art at nearby Plaza Park and add colored lights to the other side of the Jefferson Boulevard bridge, said Aaron Perri, executive director of the city’s Venues, Parks & Arts department.

He said the grants, totaling $180,000, come from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County and Visit South Bend Mishawaka. The new colored river lights, which, unlike the north side that was lighted in 2015, will shine down. That’s because the lights will have to be positioned higher to avoid possible damage from the downstream flow of the river, logs and debris, Perri said.
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