Residents of Lincoln and surrounding communities drove to Pinnacle Bank Arena Oct. 24-25 to see all 51 sculptures from the Serving Hands public art project displayed outside the entrance. Many of the art lovers enjoyed visiting with the artists and taking part in family-friendly activities.

After being displayed at multiple Lincoln locations for 14 months, the sculptures were displayed together for two days at the arena before each one was auctioned to the highest bidder Friday evening, Oct. 25.

“Throughout these last 14 months, I have been overwhelmed by the community’s openness and excitement about this project,” said Matt Schulte, executive director of Campus Life, which received two-thirds of the $125,000 raised by the auction and sponsorships. The other one-third of the money went to the artists who created the sculptures.

“The number of people who enjoyed crossing the city to find each sculpture and share their photos was astounding,” Schulte continued. “The attendance at last week’s (Oct. 24-25) events spoke to the love that Lincoln had for this project. I am so thankful to the patrons who had a vision to join us in this project, and to the auction winners who will proudly display these pieces for years to come.

“The monies generated through this project will hopefully help propel Campus Life forward to impact teens for another 50 years,” Schulte added.

In addition to the funds raised by the auction and sponsorships, additional money is still coming in from merchandise orders for books, posters and T-shirts that commemorate the Serving Hands project.

Historically, the highest bid in all of Lincoln’s public art projects had been $16,000 – in the Illuminating Lincoln: Lighthouse project.

“That record was shattered Friday night when “Serving Bones” by Miranda Knutson was purchased by Advanced Medical Imaging for $24,000,” said Liz Shea-McCoy, Serving Hands project director.

Shea-McCoy also noted that a fundraising effort led by U.S. veterans succeeded in purchasing “The Cost of Freedom” sculpture with a final bid of $16,000. Artist Tammy Miller and sculptor Brian Arp created the sculpture to portray two hands holding a folded America flag. Thanks to this effort, the piece will be installed once again at the Veterans Administration entrance on 70th Street.

“I wanted to create a visual to remind us of the cost of our freedom,” said Miller of her sculpture.

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Another sculpture, “Nurture and Protection,” created by artist Shea-McCoy and sculptor David Manzanares, was purchased by its Patrons, the Bettenhausen Family Foundation, for $9,000 and reinstalled at 33rd and Sheridan Boulevard.

“A mother bird with her baby birds will always have an important and meaningful place in my heart,” Shea-McCoy said of the sculpture’s design. “’Nurture’ is a synonym for ‘nourish,’ and I have tried to emulate the mother bird’s fierce protective and nurturing skills in the ways I have raised my own children, focusing on safety, leading by example, basic trust and love.”

Artist Darlene Jansen said that both of her sculpture designs, “Climbing rose – High Aspirations” and “Monarch Butterfly – Metamorphosis of Life,” include characteristics symbolic of Campus Life.

“My inspiration for ‘Climbing Rose – High Aspirations,” for example, reflects the encouragement Campus Life gives to teenagers for climbing to their highest achievements,” Jansen said. “The rose in full bloom reflects the growth in fulfillment of their accomplishments, and the buds represent the dreams of their aspirations.”

Artist Lindsay Reger, who created “You Did for Me” along with artist Sara Walters, said the inspiration for their sculpture’s concept came from the Bible verse Matthew 25:40, which says: “The king will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

“This Bible verse, along with the chapter that surrounds it, is about serving others,” Reger said. “By serving those with the least, the poorest, the friendless, we serve God and show our love for Him and our neighbors.”

Reger added that the two children depicted at the bottom of the ladder represent children with struggles who might need extra help getting through a big and sometimes scary world. The ladder, she said, represents people such as teachers, doctors, friends and family members who help them out. The sculpture’s colorful side depicts kids’ positive ideas of what they want to achieve, she said.

City hall: Public art Spider-Man hands confused for devil horns, called anti-Christian

While many of the Serving Hands sculptures were purchased by local buyers and will continue to be displayed and seen around Lincoln, at least one found a home on the West Coast. The “Spiderman” sculpture created by artist Ian Anthony Laing was sold to a buyer in West Hollywood, California.

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