Secrets of statue revealed

When you walk into school up the Grant Street steps, without a doubt your eye is drawn to a bright red, slightly curvy statue in the middle of the entrance. Maybe it’s a check mark? Maybe it’s a chair? What does it mean? Who put it there?

West Side alumni Betty Livingston ran across this statue at an art exhibit in Chicago and loved it. The statue was designed by Gary Wojick, whose work has been featured in Hyde Park Chicago and New York City. She and fellow alumni Jane Ewbank were on the committee to get it moved to the school, according to former principal Eric Casson. When asked how the statue got from Chicago to West Side, Jane, who still lives in the area, answered “ It came down to my house and sat at my house for about three months. And the block it came on is still sitting in my living room. It ended up being a great coffee table.”

As for the date of its implementation no one could provide an exact year. Casson estimated some time in the late 70s or early 80s, since it had been in place for several years when he retired in 1989.

The statue was dedicated by the class of 1955 in memory of AE Kemmer II, a Navy pilot who was killed in 1961 when his plane went down on take off. To friend and classmate Sonya Eddy, “He was a small man in stature but full of personality and a wonderful leader.” He graduated from Miami University in Ohio, where he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and Navy ROTC.

The statue was originally bronze, but was painted red by Bob Rohrman Auto Group when the school was renovated in 1998. According to Jane, it’s the worst thing they could have done. She commented it would be worth a lot more had it not been painted.

Still, the statue’s true meaning seems destined to remain a mystery – we can only hope to speculate what the elusive figure really is.

6 Responses to “Secrets of statue revealed”
  1. Chris Hinkle says:

    The sculpture is older than you think. It was in the building when I graduated in 1972.

  2. Mike Adams says:

    It was in the lobby in 1972 when I was a freshman.

  3. Chris Ball says:

    Look at the cover of the 1971 year book. One of my then sophomore class classmates, Karl Ahlrichs I think, took a photo of two students sitting on the opposite sides of the one-time granite base of the statue. It used to sit inside the Grant Street entrance lobby. He then printed the picture in silhouette. Back then the paparazzi at WL had in-school darkroom privileges. As I was starting to say…the cover of the 1971 year book is that silhouette image… and on second look.. it is a silhouette very reminiscent of someone giving someone the finger. I’m not sure of the exact repercussions on the yearbook staff, but I know the following yearbook was a collage of school related line drawings….apples and chemistry beakers and such.

    • Karl Ahlrichs says:

      Chris got it right. I took the silhouette when i was learning how to use a borrowed 300 mm telephoto. In the darkroom i clearly saw the outline of the finger…i submitted a print AS A JOKE to the yearbook. Never heard from them until the proofs were back from the printer and it was too late to change.

      Still proud of that…

  4. Mabra George says:

    I think the statue arrived with the new addition somewhere around 1969 or 70.
    I was a freshman in 69/70 & it was there then.

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