Top 5 sculptures in C-U? Here are Kacich's picks
Thursday, just two weeks and a day after Alma came home looking more gorgeous than ever, Champaign-Urbana unveiled its latest must-photograph landmark. With a bronze Roger Ebert getting two emphatic thumbs up from film festival fans, we asked resident historian TOM KACICH to list his five favorite other sculptures in C-U.
"Prayer for Rain"
West Side Park, Champaign
Created by Edward Kemeys, who is best known for his work of the two large lions that flank the entrance to the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. "Prayer for Rain," which was installed in 1899, features an American Indian, arms outstretched, appealing for rain. At his side are a panther and a deer, also seeking relief for the parched earth.
"Lincoln the Lawyer"
Carle Park, Urbana
Created by Lorado Taft, it features a young Abraham Lincoln, as he would have appeared as he rode the judicial circuit that included Springfield, Bloomington and Urbana. It originally was placed in downtown Urbana, in 1927, at a small plot adjacent to the Urbana-Lincoln Hotel. That was close to the site of Pennsylvania House, where Lincoln would stay and where he once held a legendary footrace. But the statue soon was moved to Carle Park, across from Urbana High School.
Krannert Art Museum
University of Illinois
I loved taking children and grandchildren to see this Taft piece because to me it shows how we can learn from even the youngest among us. In it, a small child is carried among a group of blind people. The child, who has sight, guides the adults through the danger. Sentimental? Yes. Optimistic? Yes. I liked it anyway.
Wright and Green streets
University of Illinois
Probably the most famous work in Champaign-Urbana, this Taft masterpiece was dedicated in 1929, 50 years after the sculptor graduated from the UI. It features the mother, a symbol of the university, with two attendants on each side, representing Learning and Labor. For much of its 85 years, Alma Mater was located south of the UI Auditorium. But it was moved in 1962, much to the dismay of students — including the editors of the Daily Illini, who said the new location commercialized the piece.
Meadowbrook Park, Urbana
This sleek, black piece from Larry Young represents two figures, headless, in a sensual dance. Look at it from a different vantage point and the sweep and angles give it a different perspective each time.
A long-gone statue that once sat at the triangular corner of Springfield Avenue and Main Street in Urbana. It was given to the then-proudly dry Urbana around 1907 by the Womens Christian Temperance Union, and featured what was supposed to represent an enlightened woman guiding Urbana away from alcohol. There was a drinking fountain at the statue, including one for horses. The statue, which stood in front of the Flatiron Building, was removed about 15 years later.