Wednesday, April 07, 2010
On April 11, Chester Gould’s iconic character Dick Tracy makes one big tip of the yellow fedora when his nine-foot, one-ton bronze likeness is installed on Naperville’s famed Riverwalk (26 miles southwest of Chicago). The unveiling of the sculpture takes place Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Riverwalk at the Naperville Township Building (139 West Water St.) with a reception to follow at City Hall.
For more than 78 years, the square-jawed detective has graced the comics pages of newspapers around the world, as well as books, television, film and a multitude of licensed products. Tracy has become an indelible part of American culture, and a symbol for justice with law enforcement officials worldwide.
The idea for the sculpture was born from the strip’s artist of more than 30 years and now its current writer, Dick Locher, and Naperville Century Walk Corporation president W. Brand Bobosky. Locher, a 40-year Naperville resident, sculpted a Tracy maquette that Bobosky thought would make a beautiful life-size statue, joining the more than 30 public art pieces the Naperville organization has installed in the last 15 years. Locher is also a direct link to Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould, having served as Gould’s assistant for several years.
“We are excited that one of the most admired international icons will have a home on our Riverwalk,” said Bobosky. “I can think of no better tribute to our city and its artist/writer who has made Naperville his home for more than four decades.”
Wisconsin sculptor Don Reed transformed the maquette created by Locher into the larger-than-life sculpture. Reed, a loyal follower of the Dick Tracy comic strip, was intrigued with capturing the structure of Tracy’s angular face, the flow of his hallmark trench coat and the sense of energy and motion Locher conveys of the detective in the strip. He said that “thinking of the character as fully round, while creating strong lines and paying close attention to detail were essential to accurately depicting Tracy’s likeness. “My goal has been to create a lifelike, positive impression that viewers will take away with them.”
Reed combines state-of-the-art technology with Old-World techniques, traditional craftsmanship and careful attention to the smallest details to produce his unique sculptural portraits. His depictions of other great Americans include former President Ronald Reagan and Joseph Medill, former managing editor of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago mayor in the late 1800s. Reed works out of the River’s Edge Foundry, in Beloit, a fine arts studio built for him and owned by Diane M. Hendricks, chairman and owner of ABC Supply Co., Inc.
The city of Woodstock, Illinois, paid homage to its beloved Chester Gould and Dick Tracy with a museum, and now Naperville honors Gould’s assistant and the strip’s current writer and custodian, Dick Locher. Beyond Dick Tracy, Locher is a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist who has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He has a reputation for capturing the absurdities of life through his cartooning. His work has appeared in Life, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Playboy, The Congressional Record and hundreds of newspapers throughout the world. Locher lives in Naperville with his wife, Mary.