FMD#57

The big day has arrived and the completed bronze 
Everybody Welcome” of Fannie Mae Duncan has been installed.

Installation of bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

October 25, 2019 - the installation of “Everybody Welcome” Fannie Mae Duncan bronze sculpture in front of the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We were very fortunate that the weather was chilly but sunny - it had snowed the day before and it snowed again the day after the dedication! The wonderful professionals at Art Castings of Colorado brought the sculpture down and did the installation which involved using a Skytrack to light the 320 pound bronze on her black granite plinth to site the placement. 

Installation of bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

Once it was in place exactly as we wanted it they marked the location on the granite, lifted the sculpture back off and used a high powered drill to drill the holes. Then the sculpture was again lowered onto the plinth to check that the blots fit properly into the holes that were drilled. 

Installation of bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy
Installation of bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

Once everything was checked, the holes were filled with a very strong two-part epoxy and the sculpture was once again lowered onto the plinth with the bolts sunk well into the epoxy-filled holes. The cure time is about 36 hours for maximum strength and it is now complete and ready for the dedication.

Donor tablets bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

Dick Wilhelm of Wilhem Monuments designed, etched and installed both the black granite plinth and the beautiful tablets that line the two sides of the walkway leading up to the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts. It’s very grand on either side of the sculpture and also acts as a bench for people. The center tablet tells the story of Fannie Mae Duncan and the bench tables list all the donors who gave support to make this monument happen.

bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

The sculpture freshly installed. Dick Wilhlem, Pam Marsh, Cindy Walsh, Kay Esmiol, Lori Kiplinger Pandy

bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

October 26, 2019 - The dedication ceremony was simply superb. There were between 40-50 members of Fannie Mae’s extended family from across the US and even South Africa in attendance. It was lovely to see the family reconnecting and sharing their stories. The dedication itself had a huge crowd that spilled out the performance center and into the lobby as there simply wasn’t enough room. It started with a lovely rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sung by Katherine Adam, speeches and poem and ended with America the Beautiful featuring the USAFA Cadets and the Protestant Gospel Choir and Colorado Springs Community Choir. I got chills. I think we all did. The event was so beautiful, dignified and honorable - it made me think that this is the America that harkens the 1940’s when we felt so united by a common goal. Exactly on point with the message of “Everybody Welcome”. Wish you could have all been there because it was, in a word, magical.

bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

Here are links to a few articles that cover the sculpture:

https://gazette.com/news/statue-of-iconic-fannie-mae-duncan-unveiled-in-downtown-colorado/article_97011b54-f797-11e9-92c8-3fb260e48ab6.html

https://news.google.com/articles/CBMiPmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmZveDIxbmV3cy5jb20vbmV3cy9sb2NhbC9zdGF0dWUtaG9ub3JzLWZhbm5pZS1tYWUv0gFCaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZm94MjFuZXdzLmNvbS9uZXdzL2xvY2FsL3N0YXR1ZS1ob25vcnMtZmFubmllLW1hZS9hbXAv?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

https://news.google.com/articles/CBMiYGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmNzaW5keS5jb20vY29sb3JhZG9zcHJpbmdzL2RlZGljYXRpb24tb2YtZmFubmllLW1hZS1kdW5jYW4tc3RhdHVlL0V2ZW50P29pZD0yMDUyNjIyONIBAA?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

Yoland Avila Installation of bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

City Councilwoman Yolanda Avila and her seeing eye dog with Fannie Mae Duncan sculpture.

bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy
bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

The sculpture is exactly how I imagined it - planned so that the opening to the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts forms and open door behind her, symbolizing Fannie Mae Duncan welcoming everyone - through the front door.

Jazz Saxophonist doffs his hat to bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy


This is my favorite photo that my husband happened to grab quickly with his phone without this musician noticing. This gentleman spoke with my husband a bit about his experiences playing his sax at the Cotton Club for Fannie Mae Duncan but unfortunately we didn’t catch his name…this little exchange happened just as the dedication was getting ready and he disappeared before Scott to chat with him more.

Here he is, sax in hand and doffing his hat to Fannie Mae Duncan and her club…..… Priceless. 

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

Below is a copy of my speech giving thanks for this amazing project:

50 years ago our family was stationed in Tampa, Florida. My dad was a fighter pilot flying F4 Phantoms at McDill AFB, preparing to serve his tour of duty in Viet Nam. My mom was doing a great job keeping the family together and things as normal as possible for my two sisters, my brother and me.

I was in the second grade and we had a class called “Humanities” which focused on introducing us to Culture and Art. The teacher only had some photos of artwork to show us but she expounded upon these iconic masterpieces to a group of little kids, sitting cross-legged on the floor .... And I was enthralled.

While I don't remember the name of this teacher she left her mark on me and her lessons opened my eyes and set me on a life-long love of the arts.

Sadly, most second graders today will not get the same enriching introduction to art that I enjoyed.

That is one of the many reasons why being awarded the contract for the Fannie Mae Duncan sculpture was so special to me.

The Committee wanted the sculptor to keep a detailed blog dedicated to explaining the process of creating this bronze. A free resource that students everywhere could access and learn about how a sculpture is made. That really appealed to me. I already had a blog on my website and have received emails from people around the world seeking advice and exchanging opinions and ideas.

The thought of documenting the entire process was both daunting and enticing - a legacy that would introduce others, children and adults alike, to the long process of creating a bronze. If you would like to view the blog it is available on my website under the tab "FMD".

The first entry, an introduction to Fannie Mae Duncan, was posted on June 19, 2018. 56 entries and some 370-odd videos and photos later and the final post showing the finished bronze of "Everybody Welcome", installed right here, will go up later this week - the culmination of a year and a half journey in sculpture that really began many years ago when Kathleen Esmiol decided it was time to celebrate the life and achievements of Fannie Mae Duncan by creating this bronze for the city of Colorado Springs.

This exciting and wonderful experience began with the incredible story of how a little girl, daughter of share croppers, with an indomitable spirit, a keen mind and a beautiful smile grew up to become a philanthropic business woman in an era when such achievements seemed unlikely. She was tenacious, not pugnacious and instead of talking of change, she simply was the change. And she did it all in with class and panache in 4" heels.

A woman who pushed boundaries and brought people together with her integrated club and her gracious manor. We wanted this sculpture to exude style, and confidence and it was designed to welcome everyone to the arts at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts and to Colorado Springs.

It has been my privilege to sculpt Fannie Mae Duncan - but it was not a solo effort. It was not even the work of the Committee.

I think that if you take the time to look at the donor walls, you'll find the true spirit of "Everybody Welcome" in the long list of names etched in granite. These walls tell the story of a community of people who decided to come together, to donate and to celebrate the legacy of this amazing woman.

So now is the time for thank yous.... Firstly - thank you to my family, without the love and support of my family, especially my husband who put up with my long hours and tracking of clay throughout our house, I would not be here.

Thank you to Gwen Happ, who endured costume changes and rotating platforms to model for me.

I would also like to thank Chris and David Jenkins, who helped facilitate and move this project forward.

Of course many thanks also go to the devoted and truly tireless members of the Fannie Mae Duncan Statue Steering Committee:

Kathleen Esmiol
Judy Casey
Sharyn Markus
Pam Marsh
Cindy Walsh
And Advisors Lou Mellini and Claudean Bragg-Brooks

Kay - you were the driving force behind this vision. You discovered Fannie Mae Duncan when you saw Kate Perdoni's wonderful PBS documentary. You developed a special friendship with Fannie Mae and shared her story through your book.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting me help you, and everyone involved, share her with the world, in bronze. Future generations will be introduced to the fascinating life of Fannie Mae Duncan and to the lessons of gracious inclusion that she exemplified.

And for that I am truly grateful.

Thank you.

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