A bronze statue of a kneeling policeman in a Hutchinson Police Department uniform will be added to the redesigned lobby of the Law Enforcement Center this fall.
Hutchinson Police Chief Jeff Hooper presented a proposed contract for the artwork to the Hutchinson City Council on Tuesday, which unanimously approved awarding a contract to Thomas Jay Warren, of Rogue River, Oregon, for $50,000.
The life-sized statue will be on an 18-inch tall pedestal, so, though the officer is kneeling, it will be at eye level for the viewer, Hooper said.
While in bronze, the statue will have a blue patina to appear like the local uniforms, and the silver-gray badge and arm patch will also match what local officers wear. The officer’s duty belt and equipment will be molded from originals and exactly reproduced, Hooper said.
Though it will be indoors, the artist will seal the statue with lacquer and two coats of wax.
“I had a vision to create a law enforcement memorial with a bronze statue of a police officer,” Hooper said.
He worked with the city’s Public Art Design Council drafting a request for proposals and then selecting the artist.
City policy requires 1% percent of a public project’s cost go toward a piece of art. Based on the cost of the Law Enforcement Center remodel, that would have been $25,000.
However, Hooper previously requested and was approved by the council to double that.
They received eight proposals from around the country and narrowed that to two for interviews via Zoom. They also reviewed each artist’s previous work.
“I was really impressed with Mr. Warren,” Hooper said. “It’s below the size and scope of projects he normally takes on, which are much grander. But his father is a former police chief and it touched his heart to do a sculpture for us to do a fallen officer’s memorial.”
“Looking at his previous work, we were impressed by the detail he was able to do, especially when you look at the facial expressions,” Hooper said.
He also noted the detail in a guitar and a soldier’s weapon in other Warren pieces he shared photographs of.
“We were really impressed with the quality of his work, which in the end stood out above all the applicants.”
Installation, remodel following projections
Normally, Hooper said, such a piece would be out of the city’s price range. But few are currently buying large bronze sculptures, so that brought the price down.
“Our estimate is it’s worth $100,000, but because of the market artists are hungry, so we’re getting an incredible deal,” he said. “We’re very excited to have a nationally known artist.”
The police department will send him shirt patches and a badge to replicate.
Warren said it will take two months to sculpt the figure in clay, then another three months to cast it in bronze. Delivery will occur by Sept. 1.
Funding for the sculpture is included in the LEC remodeling costs, which the city has bonded. Hooper advised the council the remodeling is “right on budget” so far.