Lucy Sculptor, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

April 6th, 2015 | Posted in News


I saw a post about a Facebook group lobbying about this this over the weekend, and Mark Evanier mentioned it yesterday on his terrific blog. Now it’s a headline story on CNN. The folks in Celoron, NY, which is Lucille Ball‘s birthplace, want the statue removed because they consider it “ugly” and that it “does not do justice to the “I Love Lucy” star”. Here’s another shot of it:

Lucille-Ball-Hometown ap

Uhhhh…. I have to say I agree. It is pretty hideous. I don’t think anyone in a million years could identify that as Lucille Ball if not told first it was meant to be her. I looked up the artist and much of his other work is far better. Not sure why this one is so bad. The likeness is really poor but worse the expression is not even close to capturing what Lucy was all about. Being funny and charming. This looks like Chucky with a hair bun.

In the artist’s defense, how many cast statues have you seen that really look like their subjects? I have seen some really, really bad ones. We have a bronze statue of another famous female TV icon, Mary Tyler Moore, on Nicolett Mall in downtown Minneapolis. That is, of course, the spot where Mary famously throws her hat in the air in the opening credits of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. The statue depicts that moment:


A decent (but not a great) likeness of MTM, but it does capture the spirit of that scene and her character.

It must be incredibly hard to get a good likeness of someone in a cast statue format. I’ve seen very few that really strike me as even good. Part of it is probably the requirement exaggerate smaller elements to make them visible from a fair distance. Things like teeth seem to be made blocky and with too-large and deep spaces between them, I would guess so it doesn’t look like the subject is wearing a mouthguard until you get up close. I can’t understand that thinking myself… bronze catches light and shadow far better than skin and teeth. I would think accurately sculpted teeth would read just fine from any distance. I don’t pretend to know the limitations and requirements to do a statue like this. It would be interesting to learn that.

Anyway, that Lucy sculpture really is awful. According the CNN story the artist is asking $8,000 to $10,000 to redo it, which seems to outrage people. I guess I don’t blame him. Somewhere along the line somebody in charge of the project okayed that statue, and he did what they approved. Why the folks who originally commissioned the work didn’t say “um, this does not look a thing like Lucille Ball” at whatever stage the image above was presented to them I will never know. They are ultimately to blame. That said, if I was the artist who did this I’d be embarrassed by it and want to redo it, even if it meant working on a revision for free or very cheap. This is a lot of bad publicity.


  1. Chad Frye says:

    While the approving committee is to share the blame, I’m not so sure I would trust the original artist to do any better, especially if he is asking for more money to do it. That ship has sailed.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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