Mayor Don Wesely today helped kick-off the Pennies for Lincoln campaign to raise $17,500 - 1.75 million pennies - for a new sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. "The Rail Joiner," which depicts a young Lincoln, will be placed at the entrance of the new Justice and Law Enforcement Center, 575 South 10th Street.
"This is a community that places a high value on public art, and Pennies for Lincoln gives everyone the opportunity to contribute," Mayor Wesely said. "The sculpture of young Lincoln will face east, directly toward the ‘Gettysburg Lincoln' on the west side of the State Capitol. The two will create a beautiful and lasting tribute to our 16th President for whom this city is named."
American sculptor Louis Slobodkin (1903-1975) completed "The Rail Joiner" in the 1930s, and the original is now on display at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. In 1996, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln received a plaster cast of the sculpture and the right to reproduce it. The Sheldon is loaning a reproduction of the sculpture to the city for permanent public display. The statue, standing more than seven feet tall, will be cast in bronze by Omaha artist Les Bruning and is scheduled to be placed on display this spring.
Margaret Berry, Executive Director of the Lincoln Arts Council (LAC), said the estimated cost of the project is $40,000, and much of that will be covered by the Sheldon and other donors.
"Raising 1.75 million pennies sounds difficult, but it's less than nine cents per Lincoln resident," Berry said. "We've already had great community support in launching Pennies for Lincoln, and we hope individuals and groups will come to us with creative ideas on raising pennies."
Penny containers will be located at sponsoring organizations and businesses across Lincoln. The giant penny provided by Lincoln Federal Savings Bank will be on display throughout the community, beginning at JCPenney. Other partners in the project include the City of Lincoln-Lancaster County Public Building Commission, the Lincoln Journal Star, the Lincoln Public Schools and Kahoa Elementary, The Mill, Russ's Markets, U-Stop Convenience Shops, Valentino's of Lincoln and Big Kmart.
A web site has been created to keep the community informed on the progress of Pennies for Lincoln. Kahoa Elementary has information for teachers and students who want to be involved.