As part of First Friday Art Walk, the Portland Public Art Committee will hold its fourth session in the “Art in Our Front Yard: Portland’s Public Art Collection” series: a discussion of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow statue and “Art Underfoot,” both in Longfellow Square. Committee member Terry DeWan will lead a discussion of the artworks, their history and significance within the city’s collection.

Installed in September 1888, the Longfellow statue was designed and constructed by Maine sculptor Franklin Simmons shortly after Longfellow’s death. The bronze-cast piece was commissioned to memorialize the country’s most famous poet of the 19th century. The statue features Longfellow seated and facing downtown, his right arm resting on the back of the chair and a scroll in his left. Three bronze books lie under his chair.

The sculpture was funded by pennies, nickels and dimes donated by children throughout New England.

The fundraising effort was organized by members of the Longfellow Statue Association. The names of the children, who contributed more than $17,000 to the effort, are written and stored in a metal container housed in the memorial’s base.

Surrounding the statue and inlaid in the brick walkway is “Art Underfoot,” a community art project sponsored by the public art committee. It features collaborations between artists and community members. The tiles reflect items found on the ground in Portland, including leaves, insects, shells and seeds.

The talk begins at 5:30 p.m. in Longfellow Square.


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