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New statue to honor Oregon founder John Phelps

Visitors to the Ogle County Historical Society’s Living History and Old Time Craft Faire on June 21 got a sneak preview of the final sculpture of the Community Art Legacy.

The original clay sculpture of a bas-relief image of a depiction of John Phelps’ first landing on the shores of the Rock River in what would later become Ogle County, was created by Steven Carpenter, a resident of York, Maine.

“The inspiration for this came last spring when I was in Oregon for a wedding,” said Carpenter, who is the brother of Craig Carpenter, an Oregon resident. “My nephew Jake said I should try for it so I did.”

Carpenter met with CAL officials who suggested Phelps be the center of the sculpture.

“I didn’t want to just do a 7-foot statue of Phelps by himself so I did some sketches and came up with this composite,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter began taking sculpture classes while working as a landscaper/stonescaper. Those talents helped him create this project.

“I like working in three-dimensional textures so this just started clicking,” he said.

The piece depicts Phelps in 1833 when he and fellow traveler, Stephen A. St. Cyr, explored the Rock River Valley by canoe.

The inBronze Foundry in Mt. Morris, will cast the finished clay into bronze.

Betty Adams, a member of CAL, said this is the final CAL sculpture.

“This is so much different than the others we’ve done,” she said.

“The Expedition of the Rock River Valley” will likely be located behind the Oregon Coliseum where the city’s public swimming pool used to be.

CAL was formed in 2004 by a group of Oregon citizens with the purpose of installing “Ten sculptures in Ten years” as an ongoing tribute to sculptor Lorado Taft.

It was formed under the initiative of Jeff Adams, sculptor and foundry operator of inBronze Foundry.

Fundraising for this project is continuing.

Other CAL sculptures are: 2005 “From the Water Comes My Bounty” by Ray Kobald, was placed at Kiwanis Park in 2005 and later relocated across the Rock River to Oregon Park East; 2006 “Agriculture, Mother of Civilization” by David Seagraves, Ogle County Judicial Center; 2007 “Cornball” by Howard Russo, Oregon Coliseum front lawn; 2008 “The Bountiful Bench” by Christina Murphy, Oregon Public Library; 2009 “Solar Reef” by Andrew Langoussis, Oregon Park West; 2010 “Making Hay” by Daniel Ingebrightson, Stillman Bank, Oregon; 2011 “Harvest Hunter” by Matthew Donovan, Nash Recreation Center: 2012 “Working the Land” by Robert Pulley, Oregon Park District’s Community Garden on 10th Street; and 2013 “Soy Pod” by Pamela Lee, Oregon Post Office.

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