Honoring Hometown Sculptors Could Also Boost Local Economy

25 Oct 2018

Several well-known bronze sculptors hail from Holdrege, and the Citizens for Bronze Art organization is working to honor their talents and bring an economic and tourism boost to Phelps County.

Eight life-sized bronze sculptures by world-renowned artists George Lundeen and Brad Pearson already provide beauty and inspiration at public places in Holdrege. A ninth sculpture by George is complete and will be placed at the new baseball/softball complex, and a tenth sculpture by Mark Lundeen will soon be placed at the Holdrege Public Library.

Citizens for Bronze Art, who funded five of the existing sculptures, is now seeking the public’s help in continuing to expand the collection with a larger-than-life-sized bronze eagle created by local artist Mike Sughroue.

Dr. Stuart P. Embury, chairman of Citizens for Bronze Art, said he is excited to highlight Sughroue’s talents in the community with “The Spirit Within” sculpture.

“It’s a stunning piece,” Embury said of the bronze eagle. “I think it’s just a great project. I’m hoping that people will be generous with Give 2 Grow (the Phelps County Community Foundation’s giving day on Nov. 15) so we can complete this project this year.”

The Hastings Museum houses a crane sculpture that Sughroue created 25 years ago, so it’s fitting that the Holdrege artist’s work could also be publicly viewed in Holdrege. He also created two sculptures that were placed in Tulsa, Okla.

George and Mark are brothers who are originally from Holdrege and now work from their studio at Lundeen Sculptures in Loveland, Colo. Their work is featured across the country, including at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., at the new Scheel’s store in Lincoln and in hundreds of other locations. They are also the creators of the new life-sized Stations of the Cross bronzes at the Cloisters on the Platte retreat center near Omaha.

Brad Pearson also is from Holdrege and still lives here today. In addition to several bronze sculptures in Holdrege, life-sized sculptures he created of famous golfer Old Tom Morris are in Lawrence, Kan., at the Golf Course Superintendents Association headquarters; at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla.; and in the foyer of the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Bill and Sheila Tringe established Citizens for Bronze Art in 2009 to acquire world-class bronze art from sculptors with roots in Holdrege to create a showcase for their art in public places in their hometown. Embury became the chairman of the organization in 2017, and the Tringes still volunteer with the cause.

“I’m a big proponent of public art,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “Some communities make public art part of their tourism and economic development program. It creates an ambiance in the community or downtown and adds a positive vibe. It adds to the cool factor of the community.”

Great art is a part of what makes a community a great place to live, and it brings in visitors with an interest in art. Reports show that communities who invest in the arts and cultural initiatives are more likely to grow into strong, vibrant communities.

Embury said that in late October, he is hosting a group of 28 people from the University of Nebraska at Kearney for a tour of Holdrege sculptures.

And while the economic impact may be small at first, it could grow with time.

“When you donate to a sculpture, you are talking about a gift that lasts 200 years,” Embury said.

In addition, the sculptures may serve as inspiration to younger generations as students walk by Brad Pearson’s “Apple of My Eye” sculpture every day at the Holdrege Middle School.

Embury said that the Holdrege sculptors all mention long-time Holdrege art teacher Louise Mulliner as having a major impact on their artistic careers.

“I think she was just a tremendous impact on students here,” Embury said. “She was very influential to anyone who had interest in art in the community.”

Sughroue’s eagle sculpture titled “The Spirit Within” will be dedicated in honor of Mulliner.

Local Bronze Sculptures:

  1. Promise of the Prairie by George Lundeen, North Park
  2. Apple of My Eye by Brad Pearson, Holdrege Middle School (private donors)
  3. First Tee by Brad Pearson, Holdrege Country Club (donated by the family of Frank and JoAnn Hilsaeck)
  4. Field of Blue by George Lundeen, Phelps County Courthouse (Citizens for Bronze Art)
  5. Tender Touch by George Lundeen, Phelps Memorial Health Center Courtyard (donated by the Person family in memory of Char Person)
  6. Joy of Music by George Lundeen, inside the Tassel Performing Arts Center (Citizens for Bronze Art)
  7. Hometown by George Lundeen, inside First State Bank (purchased by First State Bank)
  8. Harvest Dreams by George Lundeen, Nebraska Prairie Musuem (Citizens for Bronze Art)
  9. First Mitt by George Lundeen, currently inside at the Phelps County Community Foundation to be placed at the new baseball/softball complex (Citizens for Bronze Art)
  10.  The Good Book by Mark Lundeen, soon to be placed outside the Holdrege Public Library (Citizens for Bronze Art)
  11.  The Spirit Within by Mike Sughroue, 2019 project to possibly be placed at the Holdrege North Park (Citizens for Bronze Art)

Watch for information about Citizens for Bronze Art projects and other community giving opportunities at www.give2growphelps.org.