They call him the “O! Dude.”
The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce is installing a 25-foot-tall, baseball-cap-wearing statue in its Old Market courtyard at 13th and Howard Streets. A public unveiling and dedication is scheduled for 4 p.m. today.
Omaha sculptor Les Bruning has spent the past six weeks building the jumbo-sized baseball fan at his Hot Shops studio at 13th and Nicholas Streets.
“We’ve been working like crazy to finish him in time for the College World Series,” said Bruning.
The “O! Dude” is what artists call a kinetic sculpture, meaning the piece actually moves. His head is connected to an electronic sensor that will detect people moving through the courtyard.
Bruning’s statue will be the most prominent part of the chamber’s new $250,000 courtyard. The cost of the statue is about $30,000, said David Brown, the chamber’s president.
“O! Dude” will be leaning against the back of the courtyard’s giant video screen, facing away from traffic on 13th Street. That means people will have to walk around the screen to see the front of the statue.
“We did that on purpose because we want people to experience the whole courtyard,” Bruning said.
Regardless of its position, “O! Dude” will be impossible to miss because of its size.
The statue wears size 48 tennis shoes and an 8-foot-long white T-shirt. It has a 96-inch waist. Its welded steel legs are about 14 feet long.
Bruning made the statue’s running shorts and T-shirt out of aluminum mesh. A large “O” and heart –– which will be illuminated using LED lights –– will be visible inside the T-shirt. The statue’s face and hands will be copper in color, and its shorts painted Husker red.
“I’m going to paint his shoelaces blue as a nod to Creighton University,” Bruning said.
Brown said he initially approached Hot Shops because he was looking for a creative way to recognize the many donors who made the courtyard possible.
Bruning had a ready-made plan. He had been toying with the idea of creating his statue outside his Hot Shops studio.
He proposed the statue –– along with a wall inscribed with donor names –– for the chamber courtyard instead. The idea was readily accepted.
Bruning was going to call his statue “Relaxing Dude.” The figure, after all, appears to be taking a break after a brisk run.
But the chamber has unofficially renamed the piece “O! Dude” to bring it in line with the rest of its advertising campaign. Bruning has one other suggestion. “Perhaps we could have a public naming contest,” he said.
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