The small eclectic non-profit Capital Area Statues, Inc., (CAST) announced today the formal unveiling and presentation on
April 20, 2012, at 4:00 PM, of its bronze sculpture, WILLIE NELSON, as a gift to the live music capital of the world.
A sculpture of Willie Nelson, concealed in a box, awaits its April 20 unveiling ceremony.
The statue will be the first ever of the famed musician, and will stand in the heart of Austin in a public plaza along Willie Nelson Boulevard at the intersection of Lavaca. The eight-foot tall, one-ton bronze cast was created by sculptor Clete Shields of Philadelphia.
Shields worked with the CAST board to capture the essence of a performer and songwriter who is beloved across the world and across generations.
“Creating a sculpture of such an icon while he is still living presents its challenges,” Shields said. “For many, the Willie they connect with is the Outlaw Willie of the 1970s, or the influential advocate for Farm Aid in the '80s, while others -- especially a younger generation -- grew fond of him during his more mature years. The sculpture needed to appeal to a broad audience and conjure up the fond memories of so many different people,” he said.
The unveiling ceremony is a free public event that will include Willie Nelson and possibly other respected musicians who will be performing later that evening with Nelson at ACL Live at The Moody Theatre in a celebration of the music of Johnny Cash. Street closures are planned for Willie Nelson Boulevard/Second Street between Colorado and Lavaca, and Lavaca will be reduced to a single northbound lane to accommodate anticipated crowds.
The sculpture is the culmination of years of planning by the CAST board, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning author and board president Lawrence Wright, award-winning screenwriter Bill Wittliff, motion picture producer Elizabeth Avellán, award-winning musician Marcia Ball, bestselling author Stephen Harrigan, attorney Amon Burton, and communication strategist Vincent Salas.
“Our pursuit always is to find the right subject, and match that with the best location and an artist who understands our vision,” Larry Wright said. “The site is perfect -- near the new Austin City Limits -- which began its long run with a performance by Willie. Our artist Clete Shields has done a superb job. This gift to Austin will become an instant, iconic representation of our great city and its love affair with music.”
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and members of the Austin City Council will publicly accept the gift of the statue on behalf of the City. A fan of Nelson, Leffingwell championed the honorary renaming of a portion of Second Street to Willie Nelson Boulevard.
“Willie Nelson has arguably done more to cement Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World than anyone, so it seemed only fitting to rename the street in honor of Willie,” Leffingwell said. “He’s done so much to cultivate our love for music, and the world’s love for our city. I’m pleased that CAST and Stratus Properties are helping us share this prominent and permanent homage to the ‘redheaded stranger."
All proceeds for the statue and the construction of the installation area came from private donations. CAST will present its statue to Austin as a gift, and developer Stratus Properties will maintain the statue at no cost to the City.
The statue of Nelson is the third gift of sculpture by CAST to the City of Austin. Other works include Philosophers’ Rock, sculpted by Glenna Goodacre, which features renowned Austin writers J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek, and Walter Prescott Webb, installed in 1994 at the entrance to Barton Springs Pool in Austin’s Zilker Park.
Angelina Eberly was CAST’s second gift. The larger-than-life image of the legendary cannon lady sits on the sidewalk of historic Congress Avenue blocks from the State Capitol. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Pat Oliphant captured with whimsy and kinetic power in bronze the woman many consider to be the “Savior of Austin.”
ABOUT CAST: Capital Area Statues, Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the history and culture of Texas through highly original works of monumental sculpture. CAST presents its new works of public sculpture as gifts to Austin. The organization raises funds independently, through the generosity of individual donors, corporations, and foundations. Find out more at www.capitalareastatues.com.
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