Tackling one statue at a time

-A A +A

Paying homage to history is doable in increments

By Carol A. Clark

At first glance erecting 13 life-sized statues in the downtown Historic District within 10 years seems daunting.

But as one would eat an elephant a bite at a time, the task diminishes considerably when the goal is one statue at a time. That includes determining the statue’s subject and securing its funding.

Reaching out to individuals and entities having had relationships to the historical figures is key to funding each commission, said Chair Ron Wilkins of the Fuller Lodge Historic District Advisory Board during an interview Tuesday.

“It’s a little bit up in the air but there needs to be someone to head up the fundraising effort … there needs to be some entity or person as the instigator to see it happens but not necessarily to carry the full load,” Wilkins said.

At its Feb. 16 meeting, Los Alamos County Council accepted the 10-year plan presented by the Historic Sculptures Master Plan Committee (HSMPC) for commissioning the sculptures to represent five eras of Los Alamos history.

“The council accepted the HSMPC report as a concept but reserved the right for review and approval of the statues on an individual basis,” Wilkins said, adding that at present there has been no commitment for funding the entire project.

Wilkins discussed the path forward to making the historical vision a reality. He explained that in his opinion it’s a little premature to start fundraising.

Artist Susanne Vertel has already completed the first statue, which is of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The statue is paid for and currently standing in the Fuller Lodge lobby. Funding for the second statue, General Leslie R. Groves, is approved and the statue will hopefully be completed by year’s end, he said.

“Let’s get both statues erected near the south wing of Fuller Lodge and once people see the statues, they will get behind the project,” he said.

While the commissions are estimated to run between $60,000 and $80,000, Community Services Director Stephani Johnson assured county council members that the HSMPC would not commission any statute until the funding for it is secured.