Lebanon is launching a public art project aimed at generating pride in the community, literally. A pride of fiberglass tigers sit in the Lebanon Street Department garage.
Communications and Community Development Director Joe LePage said the fiberglass tigers are part of a public art and quality-of-life initiative.
Local artists will paint the tigers to place in various locations. All city-owned buildings will get a tiger, as well as every Lebanon school building. Each department or school will have input to the artist, come up with a tiger backstory and name the smiling cat.
“There are 20 tigers total and, to be honest, we don’t have plans for all 20,” LePage said. “Our hope is that this will be so popular that businesses and other entities will want to join the fun.”
The blank statues came from Icon Poly, a Gibbon, Neb., company, for a total cost of $13,900 plus another $2,000 for shipping. LePage said individually the statues cost $695 apiece. The money came from casino and riverboat revenue sharing. The city is also paying the artists for their labor and materials. Plus, the lightweight tigers will have to be anchored somehow, LePage said.
Claire Haughton will be the first artist to get a blank tiger to paint. She was personally chosen by Mayor Matt Gentry to paint the tiger going at the municipal building.
“The mayor has some ideas for a tiger here at the municipal building,” LePage said. “A lot of the departments are going to have a theme.”
You might recognize the tigers, because they have a famous origin.
“The Icon Poly folks actually had (a mold) that they used for the Detroit Tigers baseball team,” LePage said. “Surprisingly, they align pretty well with, not only the tigers of the past, but it's also a pretty good marriage with the new school athletics logo. It matches fairly well, especially with the elementary schools."
“It’s a close cousin to what the tigers look like here,” he added.
If your business or organization is interested in participating in the Tiger Art Project, call LePage at 765-485-3004 or email at email@example.com. There will be a cost associated with buying the tiger, but it hasn’t been finalized. However, LePage said the money will likely be donated to an area non-profit.
“We really want this to be a springboard for a celebration of public art and artists in our community,” he added.