Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hats Off to Abe and Steve

Speaking of public art, after "Cows on Parade" made their debut in Chicago, many communities decided to do their own version.  Here was my contribution to Ottawa, IL's "Hats Off to Abe and Steve" celebrating the 150 year anniversary of the debates between Abraham Lincoln in Stephen Douglas in that town.

I can't believe this has already been 6 years ago.  I remember thinking about what I was going to do, getting up, or more likely, staying up until 4 a.m., working away on the hat.  In my first, I tried to include many different cultures throwing their "hats off to Abe" for gratitude in his quest to honor all humans.  I have the most pics of that one, even holding a couple different "openings" in my garage! ha!

These fiberglass hats were quite large--over 4 feet high.  My husband creating a spinning pallet on rollers so I could twirl it around.  A huge truck came to deliver it and pick it up, and in the end I got into the paper for that first one.  My palette was aluminum foil and cardboard; my studio, the garage; and music provided courtesy of an old boombox.  Below was opening night!  I found this shirt at Target the day of the opening.  I had to get it, because it made me look like I went with my hat!

In front of my house.  I think this was April 30th or the beginning of May, 2008.

Blurry me, probably, blurry-eyed.  I got no sleep for a week--took a week off from work to complete it...the thinking about took way longer than that.  Once I had it all figured out, I went non-stop.

This white cat was my way of incorporating our beloved Buford into the hat.  We had just lost him a few months before. To this day, and after many cats, I feel tears well up even typing about him.  He had one green eye and one blue eye.  So special.

My friend, Andrea.  

Kman and I.  He hates my short hair here.

Abe himself.  See, he has a yellow spotlight dappling down around his shoulders!

The organizers had some leftover hats that no one hat painted, and because I was floating on a high or a glutton for punishment or both, I took on another one.  Below is the sole picture I can find of my second one, and it's truly a shame.  I remember going on walks, clutching printouts of a ton of Abe Lincoln's quotes, and deciding on just the ones that spoke to me most.  The images at the top shows how he self-educated himself and got so many ideas from books.  Those ideas "spilled over" the sides and down to other people, as representing by the dripping purple-sparkled shaped.  The lips, and each set of lips was a different shape and color, represented the quote coming from his lips.  The floating flowers were the seeds of his ideas.  The larger quotes were on the body.  On the lower half, I wrote out most important parts of the Gettysburg Address.*  Below that were colors and symbols representing Africa in red, and yellow, and black, and at the very bottom were hats filled with shorter quotes.  I put A LOT of thought into it!

One of my favorite quotes:

"America will never be destroyed from the outside.  
If we falter and lose our freedoms, 
it will be because we destroyed ourselves."  

My third hat was a smaller one, and I'm sad to say that again, I can only find this one picture.  It's a real shame, because there was so much different detail of every side.  You can hardly see all the little dots I had all over this either--so time-consuming.  I'm sure I have more of my 2nd and 3rd hats somewhere, but this is before I had a digital camera, and lost hard drives on 2 computers.  If I find them, I'll update this.  Oh well, here ya' go.  My hair was a mess (still...I was running around and getting it delivered, always in a whirlwind!  

Anyway, all three hats were done in a special time of my life and got me headed further into the direction of art.


*The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


  1. These are wonderful, Jill. I love the portraits and all the detail. What a fun project!

    1. Thank you, Pattie! It was a wonderful project, and I'm so glad I got to be involved in it. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. (-: