Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Just about every year my wife Wendy gives me an Abraham Lincoln themed ornament for our Christmas tree. Some of them are Lincoln statue related. Here is a picture of an ornament that she gave me a few years ago. I love the Lincoln cameo look. Very elegant and old looking.

May you and yours enjoy a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Dave Wiegers

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2013 Calendar

As many of you know, for the past several years I have assembled an annual calendar featuring my photographs of Lincoln statues.
For 2013, I have decided to commemerate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address, by populating the calendar with photos of Lincoln statues in Gettysburg along with photographs that I have taken of Gettysburg and  of the battlefield.

Here are just a few examples of some of the months from the desk calendars. If you are interested in purchasing a calendar (wall or desk) just drop me an email. The wall calendars are $12.00 a piece and the desk calendars are $6.00. Add $2.25 for postage and handling.

By the way, the missing Lincoln statue in the previous post was in Sydney, Australia.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to Mr. Lincoln and Jeff

Okay, you know Mr. Lincoln but Jeff is not known to most of you.

Jeff is my youngest son and has lived in Dallas for nearly two years.

Today is his birthday.

He played college volleyball (its helps to be 6'6" tall and very athletic) in Pennsylvania for St. Francis and for Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His older brother Matt is 6'7" and older sister Elizabeth was 6'0" and both of them played volleyball too.

By the way, there is a statue of Abe Lincoln and John Hay on the campus of Carthage College where Jeff and Matt palyed and it is that statue that really started my journey with Mr. Lincoln and his sculpted images. That story some other time.

Jeff, coaches volleyball for a boy's volleyball club in the Dallas area and it worked out perfectly for him to be home for his birthday because his team journeyed to Chicago this weekend to play in a big tournament in the area. Those Dallas kids just can't handle a little Illinois cold spell. They were not prepared for what we threw at them this weekend with the snow, wind and near zero temperatures.

His team played their best but didn't do as well as they had hoped.

Twenty six years ago, Jeff was born in Decatur, IL. My wife probably recalls the weather that day and all of those other things that mom's seem to be able to recall about important dates but I just recall that he was a healthy and happy newborn.

Much to Jeff's relief now, my wife and I resisted the Abraham moniker for him. I don't even remember where the Jeffrey name came from. His middle name, Christopher, was my next to youngest brother's first name. He was killed in a tragic and utterly senseless gun accident when I was in college at Illinois State 40 years ago. Like to many young people he was killed with an empty gun - at least that is what the two kids that were playing with the gun thought.

I hadn't really thought about it until today, but it is strange that Mr. Lincoln was gunned down with so much of his life ahead of him and my brother - Jeff's name sake - was killed before his life had barely begun.

So much for the morose talk. I have a quiz for you

Does anyone recognize the statue of Lincoln above at the top of this column.?

Here are some clues:

  • The statue was erected in the 1890's.

  • It resided in a large park. with a large number of other statues of famous men.

  • The sculptor is unknown.

  • Mr. Lincoln was sculpted from marble.

  • The statue is now missing!

Len you are not eligible to guess!!

That is about as far as I can go with this one. Any more detail and I make it too easy to Google for the answer.

Send me your guesses and there will be a prize for the first correct guess.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone and Happy Birthday Jeff and President Lincoln.

Love ya, Pops

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

I hope Santa was good to everyone and none of you found coal in your stockings. I received three new Xmas ornaments from Wendy that featured Lincoln statues and Lincoln sites. She also found a vintage hand colored photograph of Abe in a gift shop in Gettysburg when we were there for the Lincoln Forum in mid-November.
It has been too long since I got back to my Lincolning blog but that does not mean that I have not been out and about visiting new and old Lincoln statues.
November found Wendy and me on the east coast in NYC, Philly and Gettysburg. There is a wonderful new Lincoln in New York and we visited and photgraphed three works in Philly.
After the first of the year, I'll post a couple of blog entries and will also upload some pictures to my photo site.
The picture above is of the Lincoln statue at the site of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Ottawa. Someone decided that Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas looked cold standing out in the middle of the park in downtown Ottawa and outfitted each with a warm scarf. I am not sure if pranksters added the scarves or if the city fathers of Ottawa added them to the statues.
I am not a huge proponent of dressing Abe up in clothing butsomeday I will have to relate the story of the HUGE bra that was placed on the statue of Lincoln in front of Millikin University in Decatur, my long time city of residence. Rumour has it that my wife may have been involved. Those crazy college kids.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. I hope your 2012 is spectacular!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lincoln Benched!

A few weeks ago, a friend and business colleague called me and asked me if I was still doing my "Lincoln thing". I assured him I was. He wondered if I were aware that there was a statue of Lincoln in the lower level of the Village Hall in New Lenox, Illinois. I told him I was not.

I do business with the Village of New Lenox but I don't get to the lower level so I had never seen it. I thanked my friend and told him I would check it out the next time I was in the area.

There does not appear to be any direct connection between Lincoln and the Village of New Lenox. However, New Lenox is located along U. S. Highway 30 - the famous Lincoln Highway.

Perhaps I should start work on a blog post that gives the reader a look at the many Lincoln statues strung out across the USA along Mr. Lincoln's road - the Lincoln Highway.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the New Lenox area on business and brought my camera and tripod along for the ride. I had suspected that the statue might be one that I was already familiar with.

There are a couple of artists that have sculpted Lincoln sitting on a bench and have made them available at galleries. One such artist is Gary Lee Price from Utah. His work is part of his "Great Contributors" Series which includes Lincoln, Einstein, Mark Twain and George Washington.

I have seen this particular Lincoln at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The other artist that has a number of Lincoln's installed around the country is Colorado sculptor Gary Lundeen. Lundeen's piece has Lincoln sitting on a bench, his hat next to him, and holding notes from the Second Inaugural Address given on March 4, 1865.

Lundeen's most prominent installation of this statue is in Union Square Park in Springfield. Union Square Park, located across the street from the Abraham Lincoln Museum, also contains a large bronze statue by famed Lincoln sculptor John McClarey of Decatur, Illinois.

I made it to New Lenox and found that the piece was the Seated Lincoln by Gary Lundeen. It was installed in 2008 and paid for by a large number of corporate and individual donors.

Lincoln been portrayed many times seated on a bench. Lincoln sitting on a log or a stump is an entirely different genre which I promise to address in the future!

Perhaps the most famous is Gutzon Borglum's statue of Lincoln in Newark, New Jersey. This work was a real departure from how most sculptor's portrayed Lincoln. Instead of the standing, statesman-like Lincoln or the Great Emancipator Lincoln, Borglum's Lincoln features a sad and tired looking Lincoln seated on a bench looking very weary and contemplative. His posture invites the looker to come sit beside him for a few minutes to reflect. It is a very moving work. Borglum, the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, sculpted this work between 1909 and 1911. His Lincoln was dedicated before a huge crowd on May 30, 1911.

There is a copy of this same piece in front of the Borglum Museum in Keystone, South Dakota.

In 2010, a larger copy of this work was dedicated in Boise, Idaho. Borglum was a native of Idaho. I was privileged to be the guest speaker at the dedication of this new copy of Borglum's masterpiece.

In 1995, a statue honoring Lincoln was placed in downtown Stamford, Connecticut's Veteran's Park and dedicated on July 11. This work, by sculptor John Blair, is an homage to Borglum's Seated Lincoln in Newark. Stamford has a strong connection to Borglum. He lived and worked in Stamford for 10 years in the early 1900's.

There is a statue of Lincoln seated on a bench in downtown Bloomington, Illinois by artist Rick Harney. Harney sculpted another Lincoln for Pontiac, IL that stands next to the historic Livingston County Court House.

If anyone reading my Blog knows of a little known or a new public or accessible private statue of Lincoln please drop me a note and if I haven' t visited it and photographed it, I will and report on it here and publish photos on my photo website.

Check out more pictures of Mr. Lincoln at my photo website at

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is It Over Yet?

This seems to have been the longest winter I can remember. Illinois was hit with a lot of snow and it just kept coming - foot after foot. As Wendy and I sat holed up in the house most of the past few months we wished that we had decided to take some vacation time and go somewhere warm. No where in particular - the place just had to have sunshine and temperatures above 60 degrees. Maybe 70.

Next year is our 35th. anniversary and we are thinking of reliving a trip we took together back in 1976. We were married in 1977, but the year before we backpacked around Europe for a month and visited many of the places that I had longed to visit since I was a child.
Our favorite place was Greece and we have just about decided to do Greece again though this time I think we'll stay in hotels instead of youth hostels and cruise the islands for a week instead of the one-day 3 island hop out of Piraeus harbor.
As we dreamed of being in the Greek sunshine, we recalled our 30th. anniversary trip - a Hawaiian cruise.
Now, what does any of this have to do with Lincoln statues? Well, many of you may be surprised to learn that there is a fine statue of Lincoln on the island of Oahu not too far from Pearl Harbor. The statueis located in front of the Ewa Plantation School in Ewa Beach. The statue is titled Lincoln the Frontiersman. The sculptor is the late Avard Tenneyson Fairbanks. Fairbanks is one of the more prolific sculptors of Lincoln during the middle of the 20th Century. His most famous work is probably the statue of Lincoln that stands in front of the Visitor's Center at Lincoln's New Salem State Park near Petersburg, IL. The New Salem Lincoln is featured on the U.S. Illinois quarter that was released in 2003. There is a similarity between the two works as you can see from the two pictures. In both works, Lincoln is seen a muscular young man carrying an axe. In the Illinois piece, Lincoln carries books in his right arm and the axe in his left.
Fairbank's strapping young Lincoln was erected at the bequest of the former teacher and principal of the Ewa School, Katherine Burke. Fairbanks was teaching summer school at the University of Hawaii in 1939 and the statue committee approached him about furnishing the Lincoln for the school.
Lincoln has a certain connection and significance to Hawaii. During his presidency Lincoln developed a personal relationship with the Hawaiian king King Kamehameha IV. Several letters written to the King signed by "Your Good Friend, A. Lincoln" are in the historical record.
Fairbanks' 9 foot tall "Frontiersman" was finished in his Ann Arbor, Michigan studio in 1941 but due to the war in the Pacific it was not dedicated until Lincoln's 135th. birthday on February 12, 1944. Every year on Lincoln's birthday the students of the Ewa Plantation School decorate Mr. Lincoln with dozens of multi-colored leis.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

The day after Christmas, Wendy and I made our annual Christmas trip down to visit my mother and sister who both live in Springfield, IL. The family Christmas was held on Sunday at my sister's home just outside Springfield.

On Monday, I was up early anticipating a day of taking pictures of some of the statues of Lincoln in Springfield that I had somehow missed during previous visits or simply wanted to reshot.
First on my list was the Lincoln by O'Connor on the east side of the Illinois State Capital Building. It was my plan, based on the previous evening weather report, that I would have sun in the morning and it would be striking the statue and painting it with an early morning glow. The weather was just not cooperating and I decided that I would see if the Illinois State Supreme Court Building right across the street was open to visitors. Court was not in session but the building was open to visitors. On the second floor of the 1908 building is a large bust of Lincoln by noted Lincoln sculptor John McClarey of Decatur, IL. The piece is entitled Prairie Lawyer, Master Of Us All. The title comes from a line in the Vachel Lindsay poem Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight. This McClarey work was donated to the Illinois Supreme Court by the Illinois Bar Association and was dedicated in January of 2009.
This statue was particularly hard to photograph. The bust is located in front of a large stained glass window and the light from behind Mr. Lincoln makes it very difficult to get a good exposure. Recently I have been experimenting with a technique called HDR or High Dynamic Range Photography. In a nutshell, using a digital camera, a tripod and special software , the photographer takes a series of pictures using the same focus and f-stop but under and over exposing the subject across a wide dynamic range. Within the software (I happen to use Photomatix software) the series of photos, typically 3 to 5 pictures, are combined. Using this technique, the photographer can restore highlights and shadows; shoot in harsh and challenging light and can achieve remarkable tone and color results.
The situation at the Supreme Court was ideal for this technique and I was very pleased with the results.
After finishing at the Supreme Court, we went across the street to the State Capital to photograph the Leonard Volk statue of Lincoln in the second floor of the the Rotunda. Volk is the same sculptor that did the first life mask of Lincoln.
The lighting in the State Capital is poor at best and again I decided to attempt to capture the statue using the HDR technique. The results were good and I was able to come away with several good images to work with.
The real surprise in the Capital was not the Volk but finding another sculptural work featuring the Lincoln-Douglas Debates that is virtually unknown and appears in none of the literature. High above the fourth floor of the Rotunda is seen a series of plaster friezes that encircle the dome. Little is known about these nine panels, painted to resemble bronze.
The artist was T. Nicolai. I have found little on Mr. Nicolai and just as little on the friezes. The website describes the works as "... a series of allegorical and historical pictures, in bas relief..." The artist reportedly died prior to the completion of the entire work and he left no key to the individuals in each of the none groups. Several of the key characters are easily recognizable - Lincoln and Douglas, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Washington.
Besides the above mentioned statues there are numerous others Springfield. There are four statues of Lincoln at nearby New Salem State Park in Petersburg, IL.
The next time you are in Springfield, take some time and visit some of these wonderful memorials and tributes to our 16th. President.