Skowhegan is known for its recreation on and off the Kennebec River, being the birthplace of Margaret Chase Smith, and its historic New Balance shoe factory.
All of that and more is represented here in this aluminum shoe sculpture that now resides in the heart of downtown Skowhegan.
“The shoe itself is a tribute to the men and women who worked in the shoe industry here, which was a big part of our history,” said Kristina Cannon, Executive Director of Main Street Skowhegan.
The Skowhegan Public Library received a $3,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation to sponsor an art community program back in December of 2008.
Then in May of 2009, sculptor Barry Norling presented the commissioned product. That summer, an artist painted the shoe with a mural depicting the Skowhegan community.
“A fellow by the name of Milton Christianson. They commissioned him to do the paintings on it. It’s very nice. We had it on wheels for a long time and it ended up in backrooms, and closets, and so forth. So finally it found a home,” said Norling.
After years at the library or in storage, the sculpture now sits in the town’s municipal parking lot.
“In order to get it out of the library, get it out here, and back in the community and on display again so everybody can enjoy it,” said Dale Jandreau, Director of the Skowhegan Free Public Library.
“We wanted to give it a permanent home and we hoped that it would add more to our public art collection that we’re in the process of creating,” said Cannon.
Main Street Skowhegan hopes to bring more art and culture to the streets of this historic town. They’re beginning fundraising soon for a second Norling sculpture they hope to install in Pocket Park.