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Arlington Heights' Honest Abe on tour in Chicago
By Rob Olmstead | Daily Herald Staff

Arlington Heights sculptor Fran Volz's Lincoln Memorial reproduction is on tour in Chicago. Shown at city hall, it stops next at O'Hare Airport March 9.

 

Arlington Heights sculptor Fran Volz's Lincoln Memorial reproduction is on tour in Chicago. Shown at city hall, it stops next at O'Hare Airport March 9.

 

Fran Volz

 

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Published: 3/4/2009 11:47 AM

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Abe Lincoln is takin' it on the road.

A half-size replica of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, by Arlington Heights sculptor Fran Volz, just wrapped up its stay at Chicago's City Hall and will next move to O'Hare Airport March 9.

Volz, of course, is the creator of the popular annual snow-sculpting competition that used to take place in the Northwest suburbs and just this year moved to Chicago's Grant Park.

It wrapped up Feb. 19. when Volz went out to chop up the sculptures so they wouldn't become unsafe as they melted.

"I kind of took the brunt of a lot of angry people who didn't want them to come down," Volz said.

The desire to see those works of art last is something Volz has been thinking about for a while. After all, he's created large, detailed snow sculptures in Arlington Heights for years.

Recently, for-sale signs went up at the home Volz rents on Arlington Heights Road, where his snow sculptures are often displayed. But Volz says he doesn't think the property will be sold any time soon: It's been on the market before without a sale. And even if it does, he says, he'll relocate - and continue sculpting - within the area.

"I thought it'd be great to do something a little more permanent," said Volz.

That's why he has his Lincoln sculpture on the road to troll for fundraising to do a similar competition, only this time in the densely packed foam that Abe is made out of. The piece weighs about 300 pounds, 500 if you count the base.

Foam, although relatively lightweight for sculpting, still takes a toll on the wallet. Volz figures it would cost about $7,000 apiece to transport the foam blocks to sculptors, pick them back up, display them and still have a little bit left over to pay the individual artists.

He's hoping someone, or some business, will see the Lincoln sculpture and want to find out more about the competition by visiting his Web site at www.classicalworksartstudios.com.

Volz has already got the sculptors lined up; now he just needs the funding and a location. Such a competition, featuring 20 to 30 bright white, oversized sculptures, would be stunning, Volz thinks. If city hall's reaction to Honest Abe is any indication, he's right.

Denizens of "the Hall" are not known for being impressed by much, but even the cynical public servants of Chicago and Cook County stopped to gaze up at the gnarled face of our 16th president, as did tourists and everyday residents with business at the building.

No word on whether anyone tried to slip him a few sawbucks for a zoning change.