(July 12, 2022) — Arts!Longview plans to install its first sculpture in the Cultural Arts District at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 13, in front of the Longview Public Library.
The bronze sculpture, which is titled “Books Make Dreams,” features a young Black girl exuberantly holding two books, both of which were written by Black authors.
“We are so proud to bring another piece of public art to our Cultural Arts District in the form of this beautiful bronze sculpture,” Arts!Longview Executive Director Christina Cavazos said. “Art, like literature, is a form of creative expression that has the power to educate, inform and inspire communities. We hope this young girl, lovingly called ‘Lucy,’ will both inspire and bring joy to patrons of the Longview Public Library.”
“Books Make Dreams” is a bronze sculpture conceptualized by J.P. “Pat” Childress, of Boerne. Childress grew up in East Texas, graduating from New London High School (today known as West Rusk High School). He is the twin brother of the late Mike Childress, who worked for Eastman Chemical Co. for 38 years and served as a community leader in Longview.
“When I got word of a new art project in the city, I wanted to do my best to honor Mike and his wife Annette, who passed away only a few months ago,” Childress said.
Arts!Longview received grant funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts in the fall of 2021 to help fund sculptures in the Cultural Arts District. The Texas Commission on the Arts grant is a 1:1 matching grant. The Rosa May Griffin Foundation, which has long been supportive of Arts!Longview and other arts projects in the Cultural Arts District, stepped forward to provide the matching funds for Arts!Longview to bring three sculptures to the city. Two additional sculptures are slated to be installed in the coming weeks.
After receiving the funding, Arts!Longview put out a call for sculptors to submit proposals to the nonprofit organization. A call was placed locally for requests as well as statewide through the Texas Commission on the Arts’ website and via the Texas Society of Sculptors. Arts!Longview received about 20 proposals from sculptors across the state and narrowed the selection to the three that are being installed this summer.
“Books Make Dreams” started under a working title of “Lucy.” The books she holds are each written by Black authors with the titles visible in the bronze.
“It is my hope that this sculpture ‘Books Make Dreams’ will serve as a welcoming portal for all children to engage themselves in the pastime of reading, which of course can lead to many dreams made and fulfilled by the individual,” Childress said. Childress plans to attend Wednesday’s sculpture installation, which is expected to take approximately one to two hours to complete.
In his proposal, Childress suggested the Longview Public Library as the optimal location for the piece. Arts!Longview worked with the City of Longview and the Longview Public Library to place the sculpture at a designated location on the library’s Eastman Plaza.
“Our Library could not be more grateful to Mr. Childress for creating this custom statue for staff and patrons to enjoy for generations to come,” said Jennifer Eldridge, director of the Longview Public Library. “Being a part of Arts!Longview and the Cultural Arts District has not only opened us up to more opportunities such as this art installation, but has really opened us up to the beautiful partnerships we have gained with the arts community at large. We are excited to further cement our place into the arts community and hope everyone will be as excited as ‘Lucy’ is to come to the library to check out all the books and programs we have available.”
Arts!Longview is a nonprofit organization that manages a 343-acre state-designated Cultural Arts District in Longview. The Cultural Arts District encompasses downtown Longview and extends to the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University. In previous years, Arts!Longview has brought public art to the city through a variety of murals downtown. In addition to “Books Make Dreams,” Arts!Longview plans to install two additional sculptures this summer in the Cultural Arts District.
To learn more about Arts!Longview, visit www.artslongview.org.