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updated: 7/26/2011 4:45 PM

St. Charles man knows attention-grabbing public art

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People have stopped in their tracks to get a look at the 26-foot Marilyn Monroe sculpture on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

A St. Charles man can appreciate the tourist attraction more than most of us, especially because he created a 15-foot sculpture that towers over the Fox River in his hometown.

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Guy Bellaver is most famous for sculpting Ekwabet, the Pottawatomi Indian statue near the St. Charles Police station, so he knows plenty about creating an attention-grabbing statue of a deceased person.

Bellaver, who has been adding public art to the streets of St. Charles and many other places for the past 30 years, recently conducted a clay-sculpting demonstration at the St. Charles Arts Council pop-up gallery at Shelby School.

"Not many people came," Bellaver said with a shrug.

But this is a fairly exacting science the general masses either can't comprehend, or realize they won't be diving into any time soon.

Regardless, Bellaver does fascinating work and his demonstration showed how he could sculpt a figure, without that person being in the room.

"I had a color photo of our 4-year-old grandson on the computer and just worked off that," Bellaver said. "It was to show how easily you could make a bust out of someone you know or love."

Bellaver said sculptors use the same process to create busts or statues of the deceased.

"If you have a photo, and generally know the person's body dimensions, and find someone similar to measure, you are able to do it," Bellaver said.

Every town has them:

An interesting facet of the history of the Ekwabet statue in St. Charles is that a Pottawatomi Indian statue previously stood in Pottawatomie Park for years, before vandals ruined it in the 1960s.

It reminds us that idiots who vandalize city and school property have been with us forever. Unfortunately, public art is often a target.

Ask those in Batavia about it. Vandals have already knocked off pieces of the painted Bulldogs dotting the city for the Bulldogs Unleashed program, and the city also had to deal with the costly vandalism to the "Self Made Man" statue on North River Street last spring.

The Bulldogs Unleashed fundraising project was one of the best ideas in terms of providing a fun city art that would catch everyone's attention. Why someone would knock off pieces of the sculptures is anyone's guess.

St. Charles knows all about this game, having its sculptures in Mount St. Mary Park vandalized on a few occasions.

You'd like to throw the book at vandals, but sadly, they're usually just bored kids looking to impress other bored kids with "pranks" that carry a high price.

Maybe Sir Paul?:

It's either marketing genius or it falls in line with many famous celebrity sightings -- you never know who is going to show up in St. Charles.

This may be why Arcada Theater owner Ron Onesti floats the idea that Paul McCartney could possibly show up Saturday night because his friend Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame is performing.

McCartney performs in Chicago the following night, so one never can tell about these things.

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