Public art idea: Squirrel stampede

June 17, 2013
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The story of the Great Squirrel Stampede is a standard in Hamilton County historian David Heighway’s repertoire.

More than 100,000 migratory squirrels sweeping through the area—destroying cornfields as they went—certainly attracted attention.

Now a group of up-and-coming leaders is working on a public art initiative inspired by the story, hoping to install a series of squirrel statues throughout the county. (IBJ subscribers can read the full story here.)

Squirrel Stampede teamHCLA's squirrel nuts (front to back, left to right): Lindsay Labas, Sarah Reed, Lauren Littlefield, Scott Smith, Carl Johnson, Chris Woodard, Garry Harling

Members of the Hamilton County Leadership Academy latched onto the idea after hearing Heighway’s story and even landed a $1,000 grant to get the project started. But they’ve finished the 10-month leadership program (and their official collaboration), so organizers are looking for help with execution.

Assistance could come from the next HCLA class or another organization willing to oversee fundraising and installation. The fiberglass statues are expected to cost $500-$1,000 each to produce, and organizers envision a half-dozen or so in each of Hamilton County’s eight communities.

Group spokeswoman Lindsay Labas said several of the recent HCLA graduates are so invested in the idea that they’re willing to see it through on their own time, if need be. But the project likely would have more staying power if it found a permanent champion.

Early feedback has been encouraging, Labas said. What do you think of the project? Does Hamilton County need an infusion of art? Are squirrels a worthy subject?

  • statues
    Seems to be one of the nuttier ideas that's been proposed lately. I'm not opposed, so long as they squirrel away funds to care for the statues. Perhaps they could be named after the county commissioners, mayors, etc...
  • Squirrels???!!!
    I think it's a totally nutso idea and a ridiculous waste of money.
  • No.
    This is ridiculous. And, of course, they want the artists to donate their time and skill. Junk this idea, quickly, before Hamilton County is embarrassed thanks to tacky public art, yet again. Leave the art to the artists, please. And pay them too. Do the people that are putting this together work at their jobs for free? Didn't think so.
  • More HC Squirrel Information
    How funny that this appeared today. I just started reading "A history of the formation, settlement and development of Hamilton County, Indiana, from the year 1818 to the close of the Civil War (1901)" by Augustus Finch Shirts and he told the story of the squirrel migration too ("In the year of 1826 the great emigration of squirrels ocurred...")! So far, it's excellent reading of Hamilton County history.
  • As for the Art part of it all... it any more silly than the great Cow installation of Chicago? Might want to have the community more inolved somehow though...?
  • Too squirrelly!
    Really? We don't have to be like Carmel and their creepy statues. Do we want to be known for being squirrelly? Bad idea. Let the people vote!

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