Financial services company unveils 16-piece sculpture park along river
By Mary Johnson
June 09, 2008
The largest corporate investment in public sculpture in the state will be officially unveiled this week in Hartford, according to area art experts.
After donating more than $18 million to area nonprofits over the past 10 years, Lincoln Financial Group is presenting its next big gift on June 11. Thanks to the company’s almost $600,000 investment and its partnership with the Greater Hartford Arts Council and Riverfront Recapture, it has erected a sculpture park dedicated to the life and lessons of Abraham Lincoln along both sides of the Connecticut River.
Test Of Time
“This was something that was going to stand the test of time. It was very visible,” said Lisa Curran, program officer for the Lincoln Financial Foundation in Hartford. “This is free and accessible to everyone,” she added. “We just saw it as a very dramatic way to enforce our commit ment to the city.”
The sculptures tie into the legacy of Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln Financial’s namesake) and illustrate the Philadelphia-based company’s commitment to Hartford. Lincoln Financial gave a $500,000 gift to the Greater Hartford Arts Council. In addition, it also paid for two pieces to be created by the Neighborhood Studios Program as well as another sculpture from renowned African-American sculptor Preston Jackson. That brought the company’s total investment to about $600,000, Curran said.
“It was a very complex project that stretched out over four years,” said Kenneth Kahn, executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. “I don’t think there’s another corporation that has invested in another themed sculpture park.”
Linda Dente, a consultant and former public arts director for the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, said the closest thing to the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk at Riverfront is the sculpture collection at the Pepsico headquarters in Purchase, N.Y.
Some companies will commission one or two pieces of public art when they establish a new headquarters or a new location, but “it’s not a common thing for businesses to get involved in something like [the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk],” Dente said.
Fifteen sculptures will be installed as of the official opening ceremony on June 11. And one more piece by Don Gummer, sculptor and husband of actress Meryl Streep, is set to be installed sometime over the next year. The walk also comes in time to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth in 2009. And Curran said there’s a national commission developing activities across the country that revolve around the life and times of Lincoln and promote them.
The sculpture walk could spur tourism and “put Hartford on the map,” Curran said.