Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 16, 2012

Third bronze ‘citizen’ to be installed soon at downtown location

STILLWATER, Okla. — Local residents who have had occasion to be downtown in recent weeks may have noticed a couple of new citizens in Stillwater.

The new arrivals don’t speak, and they never move, but they fast are becoming the talk of downtown.

One sits on a bench outside of the Municipal Building on Lewis St., a businessman pursuing important papers.

Another leans over a rail on the corner of 8th Avenue and Main Street silently watching downtown traffic.

Although strikingly life-like, they actually are bronze statues commissioned by the Business Improvement District of Stillwater.

The traffic watcher statue was installed last week and the businessman looking at papers on the bench was installed about a month ago.

“I’d love to give them a name,” said BID coordinator Angela McLaughlin. “Maybe will have a name-the-statue contest. People take photos with them all the time. And that’s one thing that appealed to us. We knew that we would have people stop and interact with them.”

McLaughlin said plans are to have two or three more statues in place by the end of the year.

The next statue is called “Early Comprehension” and depicts a young girl laying on her stomach reading a book. That statue will be installed at Chris Salmon Plaza near the fountain on 9th St. and Main St. in early September.

Altogether, the three statues cost $15,000. McLaughlin said the board had surplus capital from the previous years and set aside $70,000 for landscaping, bike racks and decorative elements.

“We wanted to put in more visual interest,” she said. “We want to elevate downtown. We want to create that special destination, not just for the citizens of Stillwater, but anybody visiting. I think the sculpture (project) will really help with that. We want it to be a cool, fun place, an inviting place for people to be.”

McLaughlin said BID received a substantial donation from a local family trust that paid for 95 percent of the cost of the statue of the businessman.

“Everything is very Norman Rockwell-ish,” said McLaughlin. “I presented our board with several different ideas of sculptures. Did they want to go more western animals, or what? But they liked the look of the (statue) people interacting with Main St. They liked that it’s representative of what we are downtown, people reading the paper, somebody standing there watching the traffic, somebody laying there reading. We want to have those multi-generational (statues) where it’s grandma, grandpa and the grandkids, because that’s what our downtown is. It is about the past, the present and the future generations. When you think about the BID, we are ultimately preserving that piece of history. Our board felt that this was appropriate for what we have and who we are.”

The statues were cast by Bronzeman, a foundry in Oak Park, Calif.

The man on the corner of 8th St. and Main St. is learning against a bike rack manufactured by Stillwater Steel.

McLaughlin said the statues are strategically placed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“You can’t just put it in the middle of the sidewalk,” she said.

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