Alan Collins’ sculpture of a pioneer gold miner was formally dedicated Monday, adding a festive note to the re-opening of the Jacksonville Library. - Jim Craven

Art marks Jacksonville library opening

JACKSONVILLE — Residents had two reasons to cheer Monday as a long-awaited piece of public art was officially dedicated at the same time the doors of the library were reopened after a six-month closure.

Sculptor Alan Collins' bronze statue of a miner panning for gold cost about $26,000 and took five years from inception to installation, said resident Tony Hess, project initiator.

The 300-pound work is affixed to a 12,000-pound boulder and stands on stones that were picked from nearby Jackson Creek, Hess said.

"I know (the smaller stones) were all touched by a gold miner at some point," quipped Hess, alluding to the town's rich mining history.

The new piece of public art was funded by a $10,000 grant in 2002 from U.S. Bank, a recent $10,000 grant from the National Park Service, $4,500 from the city and $1,000 from the Friends of the Library Association, Hess said.

Collins' experience, expertise and design impressed the project's panel of judges, Hess said.

The city's leisurely five-year pace was a nice change from other commissioned work, Collins said.

The piece was originally carved in foam as part of a complicated "lost wax" casting procedure, he said. After several applications of wax, silica and flint, the figure was placed in the furnace, heated to a glowing red (where the wax is "lost"), and filled with a luminous golden stream of liquid bronze, Collins said.

Marjorie Edens, former Friends chairwoman, said the organization had named the statue "Jimmy" after two historic packers, James Cluggage and James Poole, "who happened to camp next to the creek bed and found gold," she said.

After the brief dedication ceremony, the library's doors were thrown open for the first time since its April 6 closure.

"We've waited too long, for sure," said Edens. "Let's not have this happen again."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

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