City of Sculpture
A TIMELESS LEGACY
Those who visit the majestic End of the Trail often find the figure captivating, almost mirage-like in its poignant splendor. This world-famous status is only one piece of the bronze legacy Clarence Shaler left to his beloved hometown. Born the son of Mackford Prairie farmers, Shaler was an inventive genius, always looking for better ways to do things. Perhaps that’s why he fostered such a love for sculpture, a kind of art that lends itself well to interpretation from a multitude of perspectives. Not only was Shaler instrumental in bringing two major works of American art to Waupun but also, he began sculpting his own heritage in bronze at age 70, further expressing a lifelong love of art. One by one, he donated pieces to the City of Waupun and other institutions with which he felt a personal connection. Today Waupun has one of the highest concentrations of public art per capita in the United States, thanks to one remarkable pioneer and the rich cultural inheritance he left behind.
AND BY THE WAY….
Waupun is not the only city gifted with Shaler’s works of sculpture. Nearby Ripon College, Shaler’s alma mater, boasts the lifesize Abraham Lincoln and a piece entitled Genesis, both sculpted by Shaler.
Shaler also sculpted numerous other works including Unfolding Flower, Diogenes, By the Roadway of Life, Nydie, Youth, My Mexico, The Choir Boy, Inspiration, The Vision, Whither, and The Spirit of the Pond Lily, all of which are located in Pasadena, California. Yet another sculptured piece Tomorrow is Today’s Dream, in located in Miami, Florida.
THE END OF THE TRAIL
The image of this heroic bronze, even its silhouette, has become an icon representing the plight of Native Americans who were displaced all over the country during the 18th and 19th centuries.
BACKGROUND: The original model of “The End of the Trail” was created by James Earl Fraser in 1894 when he was 17 years old. It’s completed size was only 18 inches tall. Fraser was asked to replicate his masterpiece in plaster for the 1914 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco which was where Shaler first beheld the work of art. The child of pioneer farmers, Shaler had contact with Native Americans living around nearby Lake Emily and was saddened by their disappearance over the years. As a tribute to the Native Americans he commissioned James Earl Fraser to cast the statue in bronze as a gift to the City of Waupun. It took two years to complete at a cost of $50,000 and was unveiled at its present site on June 23, 1929. In 1975, the statue become a Wisconsin landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
LOCATION: Shaler Park on Madison Street
Called one of Shaler’s masterpieces by a noted art conservator, The Citadel is one of the most recent additions to Waupun’s bronze gallery.
BACKGROUND: Shaler usually sculpted life-size tributes to his pioneer roots in bronze, covered in dark brown patinas. The dark theme of this piece, its unnerving devil and desperate woman, coupled with a mint-green patina make it a dramatic departure from Shaler’s usual style. Family members say Shaler may have been depicting the cataclysmic events taking place in Nazi Germany during World War II, sculpting the devil to represent the Nazi Party and the downcast woman, the German people. The Citadel was displayed at the University of Southern California since 1942 and was donated to the City of Waupun in the fall of 1994.
LOCATION: In front of Waupun Heritage Museum on the corner of Madison and Jefferson Streets.
Shaler commissioned this serene angel in honor of his beloved wife, Blanche Bancroft Shaler, after her death. Recording Angel is the work of Lorado Taft, one of America’s foremost sculptors.
BACKGROUND: Shaler was conducting business in Chicago when he wandered into Taft’s studio. As their friendship developed, Taft became influential to Shaler’s growing interest in the art of sculpture. The detail on this statue is exquisite, from the filaments on the angel’s wings to her detailed toes. Recording Angel was presented as a gift to Waupun in 1923 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
LOCATION: Central part of Forest Mound Cemetery on Madison Street.
WHO SOWS BELIEVES IN GOD
A monument to the optimism of those who plant all kinds of seeds, Who Sows is one of Clarence Shaler’s later works.
BACKGROUND: This statue spent 30 years in a basement after University of Wisconsin professor labeled it “inferior art.” For another 15 years it was placed in an isolated spot overlooking the fields of University Farms near Arlington, Wisconsin. Waupun historians recognized the value of the piece and petitioned to bring it to the City of Waupun where it was dedicated in August of 1995.
LOCATION: Corner of Beaver Dam and Brown Streets near Waupun Memorial Hospital.
Shaler created this young family out of respect for the optimism that helped his parents and other settlers to forge ahead in the untamed wilderness of America.
BACKGROUND: The Pioneers has become a well loved landmark of Waupun’s Wilcox Park since 1940 when it was placed at this site. Shaler sculpted this piece in memory of his mother’s steadfast dedication to her family and the toilsome pioneer lifestyle.
LOCATION: Wilcox Park, corner of Watertown and Lincoln Streets.
DOE AND FAWN
The pair of deer are Shaler’s simple tribute to the pastoral scene at the Rock River Country Club, on of his favorite places. All kinds of wildlife roamed the grounds then as they do today.
BACKGROUND: In addition to inventing and manufacturing a new kind of umbrella, Shaler’s company also produced golf clubs. The wise industrialist was instrumental in creating Waupun’s private nine-hole golf course and country club.
LOCATION: ROCK RIVER COUNTRY CLUB ENTRANCE
DAWN OF DAY
“Like this Indian maiden who is casting off the old garments…who will ever look forward to the dawn of day of greater prosperity and happiness,” Shaler said in his dedication speech.
BACKGROUND: This statue, dedicated in 1931, is also known as “Waubun”, a Native American work which means “dawn of day.” The city of Waupun was originally called Waubun. The ‘b’ became a ‘p’ when the city’s name was commissioned around 1840 and a spelling error was made. Dawn of Day was Shaler’s first heroic bronze statue, sculpted using several different models to achieve the maiden’s perfection.
LOCATION: City Hall, corner of Main and Forest Streets.
MORNING OF LIFE
BACKGROUND: Shaler created this sculpture, some say his finest, in memory of his twin sister, Clara, who at age 18 died in the morning of her life. The bronze statue, a life size young girl seated on a large rock, eyes gazing heavenward, stands in the quiet of Union Cemetery in Mackford Prairie, twelve miles northwest of Waupun.
LOCATION: Highway 49W (Main St., Waupun) to County Trunk AW (just west of the city limits); 6 ½ miles west to County Trunk Q; 3 miles north on Q to County Trunk X; ½ mile west on X to Union Cemetery.