Sculpture By Traveling Idaho Artist Gets A Permanent Home

Sep 19, 2017

We’ve been following the story of “The Last Whistle,” a bronze sculpture by an Idaho artist who travels the country in an RV. Now the “Whistle” has a new permanent home in Michigan.

A year ago we told you the tale of traveling Idaho artist Ken Newman, who spends much of his time on the road in an RV taking his art to shows around the country. Then he was taking his latest piece to the international ArtPrize Eight competition in Michigan. “The Last Whistle” is a bronze sculpture of a blue-collar worker coming off his shift, tired and heading for home.

Newman said at the time that the bronze encapsulates the loss of America's blue-collar worker.

“He has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he’s not real positive what tomorrow will bring,” says Newman.

Workers install "The Last Whistle" in a new home.
Credit Ken and Debbie Newman

“Whistle” didn’t win the grand prize, but placed in the top 100 of over 1,400 works of art at the competition. A foundation in Saginaw, Michigan purchased the bronze and a committee there was deciding where the sculpture should reside.

Since then, we’ve learned “The Last Whistle” was gifted to the Saginaw Art Museum. On August 31, the dedication took place, with labor unions and community members in attendance.

The bronze stands outside in a courtyard in front of the museum, surrounded by legacy paving bricks engraved with the names of skilled workers. The museum calls it a “wonderful depiction of Saginaw’s blue collar history.” Ken and wife Debbie were there for the dedication and picnic.

"Mischief and Plunder"
Credit Ken and Debbie Newman

The couple have been busy, in this their 18th year on the road showcasing Ken’s art. They recently attended the annual “Birds in Art” exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, in Wisconsin. They brought along a new sculpture, “Mischief and Plunder,” made up of three bronze magpies, and the museum is buying the piece for their permanent collection.

Never one to slow down, Ken is working on three new Native American sculptures.

After a little time in California, the couple will come home to Cambridge until it’s time to head to the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland in November.

“Never a dull moment around here,” say Ken and Debbie.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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