Wisconsin's City of Sculpture

Waupun and the surrounding area boasts eleven magnificent and emotional bronze sculptures.  These works of art are worth an afternoon tour to marvel at the skill of James Earle Fraser, Lorado Taft, and Clarence Shaler.  Stop by the Heritage Museum, City Hall, or the Waupun Area Chamber of Commerce for a sculpture brochure.  Immerse yourself in these stirring works and let them speak to you!  

The End of the Trail

James Earle Fraser - 1894 - Shaler Park in Waupun


Created as a tribute to his experience growing up in the Dakota Territory, Fraser imagined this piece on the Pacific shore,  as a symbol of the removal and strife of Native Americans at the hands of white expansionists.  Fraser put his piece on display at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, where it won gold.  There, industrialist Clarence Shaler saw the sculpture for the first time, and was empathetic to Fraser's tribute.  Shaler had come of age in Mackford Prairie just north of Waupun, and recalled feeding and housing cold, starving Native Americans whose land had been taken from them.  Shaler commissioned the piece to come to Waupun, and the statue was unveiled at a ceremony in 1929.  The End of the Trail was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Doe & Fawn

Clarence Shaler - 1933 - The Rock Golf Club in Waupun


Clarence Shaler was an avid golfer and founding member of what was then called Rock River Country Club.  The Shaler Company even manufactured golf balls and clubs from a period of time.  He enjoyed golfing in the early morning, and would often see a group of deer at the edge of the fairway along the treeline.  His piece Group of Deer, commonly known as Doe & Fawn was gifted to the Club as a nod to one of his favorite memories there.

The Recording Angel

Lorado Taft - 1922 - Forest Mound Cemetery in Waupun


Clarence Shaler fell and broke his leg when he was a young boy, requiring him to walk with a cane the rest of his life.  Later on in life, Shaler was having severe stomach pains and went down to see a specialist in Chicago to diagnose the problem.  As it turns out, his shortened leg and limp was causing the pain, and it was promptly addressed.  It was while he was in Chicago that he wandered into the studio of Lorado Taft, an impressionist sculptor.  Shaler befriended Taft, and Taft encouraged Shaler to explore the art of sculpting.  When Shaler's wife Blanche passed away in 1921, he asked Taft to create a piece as a memorial to her.  Nearly two years later, the Recording Angel was gifted to the City of Waupun in 1923.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The Citadel

Clarence Shaler - 1940 - Heritage Museum in Waupun


Haunted by his memories of World War I, Clarence Shaler grew very concerned as he watched the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s.  As an ominous warning, Shaler created The Citadel in 1940 to symbolize the demise of Democracy.  The devilish figure represents fascism as he lurks behind the woman, who is "Lady Liberty."  The Ionic column, representing democracy and civilization, is crumbling.  The Citadel was Shaler's last work.  He died after falling from a balcony at his home in Pasadena, California just days after Pearl Harbor.

The Pioneers

Clarence Shaler - 1939 - Wilcox Park in Waupun


". . . [P]ermit me to present to you citizens of this community and City of Waupun this monumental group, The Pioneers.  May it always be symbolic of the spirit within you that reaches forward to those higher values of truth and order, beauty and faith . . . May it also be symbolic of the spirit of mature life which reaches those eternal values of love and loyalty, honor and integrity, discipline and perseverance,  which are the essence of every pioneer." 

Ripon College professor Franz Aust spoke these words on behalf of Mr. Shaler who wrote them.  Several cities vied for the sculpture, but Shaler gifted it to Waupun in celebration of the community's 100th anniversary.    

Who Sows Believes in God

Clarence Shaler -1939 - Brown & Beaver Dam Streets, Waupun


Originally titled He Who Plants Believes in God, most locals refer to it as "Who Sows" for short.  The sculpture is Shaler's ode to faith.  The peasant woman who planted seeds looks to the clouds, unsure if the weather will give her rain.  Planting is an act of faith,  all she can do is work and hope.

The piece was originally given to the University of Wisconsin, who placed it on their Arlington Experimental Farm in 1969.  Nearly thirty years later, the university sent it to Waupun, and the 12-foot sculpture found its new home in front of Waupun Memorial Hospital.  

Dawn of Day

Clarence Shaler - 1930 - Waupun City Hall


Mr. Shaler retired in the late 1920s, and did not begin sculpting until he was 70 years old.  Many years prior, he wrote a short story about a Native American maiden named "Lawana."  His first piece was a 22-inch portrayal of Lawana, and his friend Lorado Taft praised the piece.  Shaler sought to make a larger casting of the statue.  He could not find a model for the piece that fit his vision exactly, so instead he used certain features from a number of different women.   For example, a nurse who cared for him while he was ill modeled her hands for the sculpture.

Perhaps Shaler's only controversial piece, Dawn of Day was originally intended to portray Native Americans "casting off the old garments" and fully assimilating into white culture.  However, the popular local  interpretations of this impressionist piece have embraced the work as a dedication to optimism.  ". . . I do hope the people of Waupun will look into the dawn of a new day of greater prosperity and happiness," Mr. Shaler wrote in his dedication speech.  

Morning of Life

Clarence Shaler - 1935 - Mackford Union Cemetery


One of his more emotional works, Morning of Life is dedicated to Clarence's twin sister Clara, who died when she was 18 years old--in the "morning of life."  Mr. Shaler created this piece not only in memory of Clara, but in honor of his parents and many friends who are buried in Mackford Prairie's Union Cemetery.  Shaler sought to create a visual representation of death.  "Death," he said, "is more beautiful than life, for the dead are ever young."

Diogenes

Clarence Shaler - 1934 - In the Heritage Museum, Waupun


Said to be Clarence Shaler's personal favorite, Diogenes represents the sculptor's commitment to honesty--his favorite virtue.  Diogenes was a greek mystic who rejected the ownership of material things.  Living in a hall of records, he discarded his drinking cup when he saw a child use his hands.  Diogenes wandered the city streets with a stick and a lamp "in search of an honest man."  Shaler valued honesty above all else, and created Diogenes with honesty in mind.  This 22-inch tall hermit was perched in the sculptor's fireplace mantle at his home in Pasadena, California.

Abraham Lincoln

Clarence Shaler - 1938 - Ripon College, Farr Hall


Clarence Shaler gifted two statues to his alma mater, Ripon College, 15 miles Northeast of Waupun.  In 1939, Lincoln was given to the College, representing ". . . a man . . . at the outset of his public career.  His character, formed by his early hardships in the wilderness, partakes of the strength of the oak, tempered by the warmth of his human sympathies.  He is leaving that early environment in pursuit of an unknown destiny, untouched as yet by tragedy . . . a man at the noon of his powers, which his high resolve has already dedicated to the good of his country and of mankind."

Genesis

Clarence Shaler - 1935 - Ripon College, Smith Hall


Presented to Ripon College in June of 1936, Genesis portrays a woman emerging from granite, representing the beginning of things, chaos taking form.  

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