Eagle Lady remembered: Artist shows idea for Jean Keene memorial on Spit

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2010

At the Homer City Council meeting Monday night, Homer artist Brad Hughes presented his plans for a proposed Jean Keene Memorial to go on city land near the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit. The $15,000 memorial would be on the side of the Seafarers Memorial closest to the old home of Keene, Homer's Eagle Lady, who died in 2009.

Although privately funded by friends of Keene, who commissioned the sculpture, the memorial requires council approval because it is on city property. The Homer Public Art Committee evaluated Hughes' proposal and unanimously supported it, said arts committee chairwoman Angie Newby. The committee will present a resolution to the council at its next meeting.

A longtime Homer artist, Hughes is known for his many artistic signs around town. Most recently he did the sign for the Homer Public Library. Using a concrete composition technique like that of the library sign, the Keene memorial would be made of a cement, fiberglass fiber, glue and beach material composite that's durable and vandal resistant. A steel rod would support the composite material.

The sculpture would be a 4.5-foot tall two-seat bench facing Kachemak Bay. On the inland side would be a bas-relief sculpture of several bald eagles. An inscription honoring Jean Keene would go around the side of the sculpture.

"It's not a bronze sculpture of Keene," Hughes said. "It's a work of art about eagles."

Hughes said he would guarantee the sculpture against workmanship defects for the rest of his working life and would repair it from damage from vandalism for 5 years without cost. As with the library sign, the sculpture would be painted with a clear finish coat that paint could not penetrate. Hughes said he put a similar coat on one of his building signs, and when vandals painted it, he removed the graffiti easily with acetone.

One issue for council consideration is the amount of the art budget to be set aside for future maintenance. Hughes said the sculpture is snow and ice resistant and would require little if any maintenance.

"I think it requires the same maintenance as a granite boulder," Hughes said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong.@homernews.com.

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