Mayor Don Wesely today thanked all those who have contributed so far to Pennies for Lincoln and urged more people and organizations to become involved in the public art campaign. Pennies for Lincoln has so far raised $2,600 of the $17,500 needed to fund a new sculpture of a young Abraham Lincoln. "The Rail Joiner" will be placed at the entrance of the new Justice and Law Enforcement Center, 575 South 10th Street.
"If everyone in Lincoln gave just nine cents, we would easily reach our goal of raising 1.75 million pennies," Mayor Wesely said. "This is a great project that individuals, schools, businesses and organizations can adopt."
Penny collectors have been placed at locations throughout Lincoln including the Mill, all Russ's and Super Saver stores, U-Stop Convenience Shops and Valentino's Restaurants. These businesses are also having special promotions to raise pennies. The Lincoln Journal Star is donating advertising space every week to promote the campaign, and the radio stations at Broadcast House (KLIN, KFGE, KEZG and KKUL) will host a special event. Other businesses that have become involved are the Clocktower Merchants, People's Natural Gas and Big Kmart.
The giant penny provided by Lincoln Federal Savings Bank was moved this week from JCPenney to Mayor Wesely's office on the second floor of the County-City Building, 555 South 10th. At a news conference today, students from Cavett Elementary placed nearly $400 in the giant penny. Other schools working with the campaign include Lefler Middle School and Kahoa Elementary, which has a web site for teachers and students who want to be involved at http://kahoa.lps.org.
Other major partners in the project are the Lincoln Arts Council (LAC), the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at UNL and the City-County Public Building Commission. Margaret Berry, LAC Executive Director, said the estimated cost of the project is $40,000, and much of that will be covered by the Sheldon and other donors. LAC has a web site for the public to keep track of the project at www.artscene.org/pennies.
"The Rail Joiner" was completed by American sculptor Louis Slobodkin (1903-1975) in the 1930s, and the original is now on display at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. In 1996, the Sheldon 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, is being cast in bronze by Omaha artist Les Bruning and is scheduled to be placed on display this spring.