The sun is high, the temps are rising, and the dogs need to be let out. Seriously, though, summer evenings are a perfect time to take a stroll around Omaha, and with so much public art to view in the area, there is no reason why you cannot get a bit of culture along with exercise. We all know the sculpture “He Ain’t Heavy” at Boys Town, but when was the last time you visited it, and actually looked at the sculpture? These six pieces are notable for several reasons—whether it be the artist or the subject matter—and they are worth another look the next time you are in the area.
Metaling in Arts: Notable Omaha Statues
“General George Crook”
General Crook House Museum
5730 N. 30th St.
One of Omaha’s earliest notable figures, captured in bronze by Michael Knudson, is located on the campus of Metropolitan Community College. The statue sits among the plants in the garden, a somewhat unlikely posture for this military man, who stood up for Chief Standing Bear’s rights in the 19th century.
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
8200 Dodge St.
This sculpture by artist Matthew Placzek features 19 umbrellas spiraling up a 75-foot-tall stainless steel ribbon inside the window-encased stairwell. More noticeable while driving down Dodge Street are the five larger-than-life bronze children, holding umbrellas and dancing.
24th Street Bridge
Albert Paley’s iconic gateway into Iowa and the city of Council Bluffs stands 100 feet above interstates 80 and 29. The installation consists of four works of art constructed of bronze with a green patina, corten steel that develops a rust color, and brushed stainless steel to reflect sunlight.
Corner of 14th Street and Capitol Avenue
The bronze collection by sculptors Blair Buswell and Ed Fraughton features four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward from Omaha along a dry creek. The disturbance stampedes a nearby group of bison and flushes a flock of geese from water in an adjacent stainless steel piece, Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness (Kent Ullberg).
“Tree of Life”
24th and L Street
South Omaha has historically welcomed immigrants from many nations, and David Dahlquist captured that sentiment in metal when he created this statue. The tree’s leaves are actually cross-cultural symbols associated with the ethnic groups who brought large populations to South O—Czechoslovakians, Poles, Croatians, Central Americans, and South Americans.
“The Work Continues”
Father Flanagan Drive
In 2017, for their 100th anniversary, Boys Town unveiled a new sculpture created by Placzek. The statue shows a girl on a man’s back, a reimagining of the statue of the young boy on his brother’s back. The original statue remains on the Boys Town campus.
This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.