You read it here first – well, unless you’re a Facebook friend of Deb Whitehorse, in which case you might have read it there first.
Deb is the widow of famed Ho-Chunk artist Harry Whitehorse, who died last year. But before he died, the Monona artist completed plans for a giant badger statue, which is currently being cast in bronze at a foundry in Milwaukee.
This is not the cartoonish Bucky Badger mascot we all know and love, but a real badger: an animal built to survive, with powerful shoulders and strong claws. It’s done in Harry’s signature sleek style.
And the best news: It’s going to be displayed quite near Camp Randall Stadium, on a triangular piece of land just south of the football field.
It would be across the street from the odious Nail’s Tales, except the UW-Madison recently announced it’s going to move Nail’s Tales… to someplace else.
Hopefully someplace where you have to look really hard to find it.
I’m one of those people who have hated Nail’s Tales since it was first erected in 2005.
The 50-foot-tall obelisk is supposed to look like “a giant limestone block which is eroding into a pile of footballs,” according to artist Donald Lipski’s website.
Humph. Looks like an ear of corn that is suffering from corn smut to me.
Harry Whitehorse’s badger actually looks like a badger. Even better, it’s going to be mounted on a special platform that will encourage viewers to touch it, even climb on it.
“That was important to Harry,” Deb Whitehorse said. “He always wanted people to be able to touch his art.”
Nail’s Tales, in contrast, is not meant to be touched – because if people did, they might find out they could take a sledgehammer to it. The “limestone” isn’t stone at all – it’s fiberglass.
Harry’s bronze badger is built to last.
Whitehorse’s sculptures can be found at nine locations in Dane County, including at the UW Health Yahara Clinic on Broadway.
But if you want to see Harry himself, look no further than the beautiful mural on Monona Well No. 3, right near the Beltline on Broadway.
Created by local artist Rhea Ewing, the mural was painted with the help of community members from all over Monona, including MG21 (the Monona Grove School District’s charter school), Monona Senior Center, Winnequah School and members of the Ho-Chunk Nation.
It features animals, landscapes and other elements chosen with guidance from members of the Whitehorse family, including a single human: Harry Whitehorse, holding an eagle feather staff and a paintbrush.
Newest national park
I bet you didn’t know that the United States’ newest national park is just 152 miles from Monona.
It’s Indiana Dunes National Park, elevated from national lakeshore to national park status just this past February.
It stretches for 15 miles along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, and features beaches for swimming, trails for hiking, more than 200 species of birds, a campground, geocaching and a variety of natural features from oak forests to swampy bogs.
There’s even a collection of five homes that were featured in the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago, and were moved two years later to the lakeshore on barges.
The homes are open only to guided tours: The next will be on Sept. 28. Tickets go on sale Aug. 6 online.
And of course, there are the dunes themselves: towering mountains of sand that you can climb and then slide or run down.
Except for the tallest one: Mount Baldy, which has been closed to climbers for several years, ever since a youngster fell into a hole in the dune and was quickly covered by the shifting sand.
He was rescued unharmed but subsequent X-rays of Mount Baldy revealed many such holes in the sand, presumably left by buried trees that rotted away.
Anyway, the Dunes are a magical place – I was lying on the beach there in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, which I listened to on a transistor radio – but the bad news is, you have to drive through Chicago to get there.
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