Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dorothy and Toto


Dorothy and Toto, 2007
John Kearney
Oz Park
2021 North Burling Street

            Developed as part of the Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Area during the 1970s, this park was designated as “Oz Park” in 1976 to honor Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919), author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (published in 1900). Baum settled in Chicago in 1891, in an area west of the park area, and his book inspired the well-known film of the same name. During the 1990s, the Oz Park Advisory Council and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce commissioned Chicago artist John Kearney to create a sculpture of the Tin Man. Kearney was already well known in Chicago for his whimsical animal sculptures, called the “bumper zoo” because they were fashioned from the ends of chrome steel automobile bumpers.  His Tin Man, standing nine-feet tall and weighing 900 pounds, was one of the last of his works to used this material, due to the scarcity of chrome bumpers.
            Over the years, Kearney was asked to create statues of the other beloved characters from the book and film. The Cowardly Lion was cast in bronze, with careful attention given to the furry coat, and it was installed in May of 2001. Next came the Scarecrow, a seven-foot tall sculpture that was cast in twenty-two pieces in Kearney’s own foundry in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After completing the patination, textural details and painting, the statue was installed in June 2005.
            The final statue to be completed was Dorothy and Toto, for which Kearney employed the technically challenging “lost wax” technique. This method involves creating a wax mold, dipping it in ceramic material, which is allowed to dry, and then the wax is melted and drained, leaving a highly detailed mold for the molten bronze. After the bronze cools, the ceramic is chipped away. Kearney added paint for the blue dress and the iconic ruby red shoes. The final statue was installed in spring 2007. 

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