RUTLAND— The first in a planned series of sculptures highlighting local and regional history, was unveiled today, beginning a new chapter for downtown Rutland and the city’s ongoing revitalization.
The sculpture, a massive bookstand holding a 3 foot high, open “Jungle Book,” its characters rising off the pages, was carved by Vermont artist Sean Hunter Williams and honors Rudyard Kipling’s landmark stories, written while living in southern Vermont in 1893 and 1894 and combined into a book in 1894.
The sculpture features Baloo the bear, Akela the wolf, Bagheera the panther and Mowgli the “man-cub,” key figures in the two most famous of the seven stories.
Williams, a second-generation stone carver who created “The Jungle Book” over several months, said the piece brought out childhood memories of the book and various adaptations. “As a carver, I am usually provided a very specific vision of what the buyer would like, but this project allowed a lot of discussion with Mike DeSanto and Tricia Huebner, and we developed a collective vision that tied into all of our views of the original story,” Williams said. “I’m pleased with the piece, and excited to know it will be on public view for decades, contributing to Rutland’s revitalization. I am thrilled to play a part in this series, which I see as having transformative possibilities for downtown.”
“The book teaches children and adults alike about friendship, loyalty, trust, family, and the importance of rules,” said Michael DeSanto, co-owner of Phoenix Books-Rutland, which funded the project.
“The sculpture represents not only an important piece of literary history, but a way to say thank you for the fabulous support we have received as a new business during this time of rebirth in downtown,” co-owner Tricia Huebner said.
Mayor David Allaire, in formally accepting the gift to the city, thanked Phoenix Books-Rutland, Williams and project organizers for what he called a wonderful first step in what is expected to become a trail of world-class marble sculptures in downtown. “The planning, quality and detail that have gone into this bode well for the entire series,” Allaire said.
This sculpture, part of a planned series honoring local and Vermont history, was installed through support of Carpenter and Costin Landscape Management, in collaboration with the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center of West Rutland, MKF Properties, Vermont Quarries and Green Mountain Power.
“From John Deere’s invention of the modern plow, to the Civil War heroics of the Ripley brothers, to Paul Harris’ founding of Rotary International, this area has produced some outstanding historical characters,” Foley said. “Our goals are to honor their contributions, beautify our community, and create public art that builds local pride and visitor appreciation for the region.”