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New public art in downtown Dayton honors public servants

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 3:23 PM
By: Cornelius Frolik - Staff Writer

Abraham Lincoln, John Henry Patterson and the Wright Bros. are just a few of the big-name historical figures commemorated by local monuments.

But a new, 12,000-pound sculpture installed at Cooper Park downtown seeks to recognize and honor the contributions of everyday public servants, including those who teach children, fight fires, pave roads, combat crime, mow grass and protect and serve the public in myriad other ways.

Public servants have been denigrated in recent years, and the new sculpture thanks government employees for their hard work, dedication and good deeds, said Tim Riordan, Dayton’s former city manager who helped pay for the piece.

“I just got the feeling that people didn’t always respect the work that the public servants did,” he said.

RELATED: New sculpture added to downtown Dayton’s public art

Called “The Common Good,” the 8-foot tall monument, carved out of Pennsylvania granite, will be officially unveiled at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The monument sits at the northwest corner of Cooper Park, at East Second and North St. Clair streets.

Installed last week, the sculpture pays tribute to public servants with 13 quotations from some of history’s most famous political and thought leaders. This includes Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H. W. Bush, Thomas Jefferson, Condoleezza Rice and Warren Buffett.

The quotations wrap around the piece, requiring readers to circle it. Some of those used:

From Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Thomas Jefferson adds, “The care of human life and happiness is the first and only legitimate objective of good government.”

RELATED: Lincoln sculpture unveiled at Dayton’s Courthouse Square

The quotes declare that public service is a good thing, said Riordan, who worked in government for almost four decades, retiring as Dayton’s city manager in early 2015.

“It’s a lot of famous people, in their own way, saying thank you,” he said.

He worked for the city between 1972 and 1998, and then returned in mid-2009.

Riordan and his wife helped pay for the $60,000 sculpture.

Other contributors included Paul Woodie (former assistant city manager), Stanley Earley (former deputy city manager) and Charles Jones (former assistant city manager).

Jon Barlow Hudson was the artist. His sculptures can be found in more than 20 countries and 10 states.

But one of his pieces is located just down the road, at South St. Clair and East Fifth streets. The metal artwork, which is an eyecatching yellow, is called Fluid Dynamics.