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East Campus residents hope new sculptures will become symbols for neighborhood

Thursday, September 12, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:38 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 13, 2013
Don Asbee and his apprentices forge steel sculptures for the East Campus neighborhood Tuesday. Four sculptures were commissioned by the neighborhood association. Each will stand 8.5 feet tall with a quill pen and the letters E and C for East Campus.

COLUMBIA — When people think of MU, they think of icons such as the MU Columns, Memorial Student Union and Jesse Hall.

But the East Campus neighborhood has designed an icon of its own.

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The neighborhood plans to put sculptures on Ann Street, Bouchelle Avenue, Cliff Drive and University Avenue, which has heavier automobile and pedestrian traffic.

The sculptures will be cylinders more than 8 feet tall with the letters E and C — for East Campus — combined and bisected by a quill pen.

"The quill pen is to signify the quest for knowledge," said Don Asbee of Hartsburg, the designer and sculptor.

Asbee said he has already begun the work using forged steel.

The East Campus Neighborhood Association is using money from its treasury to commission the sculptures but needs final approval from the Columbia City Council before installing them.

Betty Wilson, a member of East Campus Neighborhood Association and wife of the late former Mayor Clyde Wilson, said she hopes the sculptures will enhance the area and demarcate the neighborhood.

"East Campus used to be a grand home for professors of the university, Stephens and Columbia College," Wilson said. "We are committed to its history."

While traveling across the country, she said she discovered examples of iconic public art in other cities.

"I have admired cities like Savannah, Ga., and Seattle, Wash. These communities have displayed public art as identifiers of the city," Wilson said.

Asbee said the project is special to him because he spent a lot of time in the East Campus area and was involved in neighborhood activities.

"It felt good to do something for something I enjoy very well," he said.

If this project does not get approved, Wilson said, the East Campus Neighborhood Association will try to find buyers to purchase the signs.

"We are hoping not to face that problem," she said.

The neighborhood association needs council approval to use city rights-of-way along the streets for the sculptures. Wilson said she doesn't foresee any problems.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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