Sculpture unveiling set for Friday
Mayor Don Wesely and organizers of the Pennies for Lincoln campaign today announced that the goal of the penny drive has been reached. The announcement came as workers installed "The Rail Joiner," a new sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, at the east entrance of the new Justice and Law Enforcement Center, 575 South 10th Street. The goal of the Pennies for Lincoln public art campaign was to raise $17,500 to help fund the new sculpture.
"This was a true community-wide effort involving businesses, organizations and individuals from all parts of Lincoln," Mayor Wesely said. "I want to thank all the donors, especially the many young people who got involved in raising pennies through their schools. I hope they all learned important lessons about the value of public art and how we all can participate."
Margaret Berry of the Lincoln Arts Council (LAC), a major partner in the project, said about $17,000 has come in so far, and many penny collectors remain throughout the community. She said volunteers will pick up those collectors from sponsoring businesses and organizations this week, and those donations should put the campaign over its goal.
"The Rail Joiner" is scheduled to be unveiled at the grand opening ceremonies of the County-City Government Center at 1:30 p.m., Friday May 5. A formal dedication will be scheduled this summer to allow for the attendance of Lawrence Slobodkin, son of the artist Louis Slobodkin.
Slobodkin, who passed away in 1975, finished "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 received a plaster cast of the sculpture and the right to reproduce it. The reproduction was cast in bronze by Omaha artist Les Bruning, and the Sheldon is loaning the reproduction to the city for permanent public display.
In addition to the Mayor's Office, LAC and Sheldon, partners in the project include the County- City Public Building Commission, Lincoln Federal Savings Bank, the Lincoln Journal Star, the Lincoln Public Schools, JCPenney, the Mill, Big K-Mart, Russ's Markets, U-Stop Convenience Shops, Valentino's of Lincoln Restaurants, Broadcast House, Clocktower Merchants and People's Natural Gas. Other major donations have come from the Rubendall Foundation and the University of Nebraska Foundation