Celeron, New York, may indeed love Lucille Ball, the late actress and comedian who starred in the long running and wildly successful television show, “I Love Lucy,” from 1951-1957. How they feel about the life-size bronze statue of the actress unveiled in August 2009 by sculptor Dave Poulin is another matter.
Likened to everyone from actor Steve Buscemi to an extra on “The Walking Dead,” the 400lb, bronze misrepresentation of the actress has earned much-delayed reactions of disgust from Lucille Ball’s fans. While the controversy seems to be as much about the small town politics of Celeron as it is about art criticism, photographs of the statue leave little room for disagreement that the bronze sculpture is not a good likeness. A three-year-old Facebook page entitled “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue!” received over 5000 hits in April of 2015 by people who suddenly felt compelled to express their distaste for Poulin’s six-year-old creation.
Dave Poulin is not considered an amateur sculptor, nor could he be justly accused of being an untalented one. Along with many exhibitions under his belt from New York to Texas, as well as several abroad in France and Germany, his website boasts of over 120 commissioned sculptures he has created throughout the United States and around the world. Critics of the Lucille Ball sculpture have been careful to point out that their disgust with the statue does not translate into disgust for the artist or of his ability.
Poulin’s initial demand of $8,000 – $10,000 to rework the head of the statue further upset many critics, who argued that the sculptor should offer to fix the statue for free. The sculptor has actually done just that, stating that he is “willing to put my time and money into redoing the Lucy sculpture.”
How It’s Made: Bronze Sculptures
The time and effort which goes into creating a bronze sculpture is substantial, and the general process of casting the bronze is thoroughly described in an episode of the Science Channel’s hit documentary series, “How It’s Made.”
As the fate of his “Scary Lucy” sculpture continues to evolve, it appears that Poulin will not be permitted a second attempt. The “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue!” Facebook site, which now has over 10,000 likes, suggests that another artist will be tasked with reworking the statue from the shoulders up. Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live made fun of the statue on its Weekend Update segment.
Alan Herriot: The Making of a Sculpture
Sculptor Alan Herriot has a video entitled “The Making of a Sculpture” where he documents the process involved in creating a life-size bronze statue, one similar in size to Dave Poulin’s statue of Lucille Ball. Watching Herriot’s video will give you an idea of the amount of work and preparation which goes into creating a life-size, bronze statue of a human being.
In 2009, sculptor Dave Poulin received a private commission to create a life-size bronze statue of the late actress, Lucille Ball, to be erected in her birthplace of Celeron, New York. The resulting statue has been a disappointment and cause for controversy in the town for years, but the controversy suddenly gained intensity in April 2015, almost six years after the statue was placed in a park in Celeron named after the late actress. The perceived hideousness of the statue’s face and its lack of resemblance to the iconic actress and comedian have been the causes of its negative publicity. Sculptor Dave Poulin has apologized and offered to rework the statue free of charge.
Editor’s Note: In 2016, a new Lucy statue was unveiled – with a more lifelike representation of the comedy icon.