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Monday, Aug. 5, 2013

Forever in Bronze

Discovering sculpture at Discovery World

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When my long summery walk ends after looping the splendid Lakeshore State Park linked to Discovery World, I rest on a bronze bench near the west entrance of the equally splendid white-on-white building. My seatmate, the forever bronze Bob Harland, welded to the bench, gazes toward the hands-on venue that is said to be his brainchild. I have to say, Harland is much more photogenic than the Fonz, who stands near the Milwaukee River. In truth, Mr. H. somewhat resembles Everyman in a suit and tie, his hair arranged just so. Prior to his death in 2003, Harland was an attorney for Whyte, Hirschboeck, Dudek, and as a native Milwaukeean, his likeness (dedicated in 2011), seems pleased to be near Lake Michigan, his days as a lawyer far behind.

Two ladies arrive to bookend the sculpture with their bikes. They pause to photograph Mr. H. A nearby visitor remarks Harland needs a briefcase, but no, a briefcase is not needed in such a place as this. 

H. looks like quite the friendly chap, with his right arm draped casually over the back of the bench, and his veined left hand (with a small ring on the finger adjacent to his pinkie) relaxed on his left leg. Though frankly, he could use a new tailor, or at least a tailor who understands that a gentleman’s suit should never appear to be excessively wrinkled. The artist, Mike Capser, is no Rodin, but all in all, the Fonz should be so lucky.

Among Milwaukee’s numerous memorial sculptures are those honoring the likes of Leif Ericson, Martin Luther King, Pere Marquette and stalwarts who command from the backs of steeds rearing along Wisconsin Avenue. North of where Harland sits, a 10-foot-6-inch Abraham Lincoln stands guard, on his feet since 1934, his lawyer days also far behind. 

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