|10-foot Gibson guitars arrive in Waukesha |
Rick Wood A collection of 10-foot-tall fiberglass sculptures of Les Paul Gibson guitars is unloaded by artist Jeff Seymour (left) and George Clemmerson of F.A.S.T. Corp., which produced the guitars. Local artists will be chosen to paint the sculptures, which will be placed in prominent locations in Waukesha.
By Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel Jan. 31, 2012
A collection of 10-foot-tall fiberglass sculptures of Les Paul Gibson guitars is unloaded by artist Jeff Seymour (left) and George Clemmerson of F.A.S.T. Corp., which produced the guitars. Local artists will be chosen to paint the sculptures, which will be placed in prominent locations in Waukesha.
Waukesha - Ten 10-foot tall guitars, modeled after the Les Paul Gibson, arrived on a flatbed trailer - guarded by a mammoth fiberglass bulldog - Tuesday morning, a sure sign that the GuitarTown Project is for real.
The Gibson Foundation and Mayor Jeff Scrima announced earlier this month that Waukesha had been selected for the project, following on the heels of cities such as Los Angeles, Nashville and London.
In other GuitarTown Project cities, the guitars typically were decorated by artists, often signed by celebrities and auctioned off to raise money for charity.
Later Tuesday, a Waukesha steering committee planned to select artists to turn the plain pieces into works of art that will be mounted in prominent spaces downtown, said Lynn Gaffey, artist and gallery owner who serves on the committee.
The guitars were made and delivered by a driver for F.A.S.T. Corp. of Sparta. George Clemmerson, an employee who delivered the hollow sculptures, which are free standing but came with metal stands, said they weigh about 50 pounds each. The bulldog that accompanied them was headed to a Beloit restaurant, he said.
F.A.S.T. manufactures fiberglass statues and water park attractions for use around the world, according to its website. Clemmerson said the company has built other guitar sculptures for Gibson.
Another 15 regulation-size, playable Les Paul Gibsons have been shipped to Waukesha and will also be decorated, then completed with the strings and hardware added.
Initially the Gibson Guitar Corp. had said it would donate 10 of the smaller guitars but has since increased the number to 15, said Norm Bruce, a downtown businessman and project steering committee member. Some of those will be auctioned off while others may be on permanent display, he said.
Scrima said his New Day in Waukesha fund - primarily funded so far from his own salary - is contributing $15,000 for seven of the sculptures that were delivered Tuesday. Another three of the large ones were donated by Gibson, Bruce said.
The steering committee is seeking sponsors for the guitars in order to raise money for charity. So far, only the Waukesha County Museum's long-proposed Les Paul exhibit has been named as a beneficiary of money raised.
Les Paul, a renowned musical innovator and guitarist, was born in Waukesha and is buried at the city's Prairie Home Cemetery. He died Aug. 12, 2009, at the age of 94.
A VIP sneak-peak event, when the finished guitars will be unveiled, is planned for May 31. The first public viewing is officially planned for June 1.
Gaffey said the project is on a tight deadline.
First the guitars have to be clear-coated and dried. Once artists are selected, they'll pick up their guitars at the Springs Artisan Village, a collection of artists' studios on Wisconsin Ave. at the Fox River where the guitars were delivered and are being temporarily stored.
The committee also has to pick sites for displaying the guitars and will likely combine public and private spots. Some could even be on a building, Gaffey said.
The project plans will also be sent through city channels, beginning with the Public Art Committee, Gaffey said.