A bronze sculpture was acquired as part of an Illinois State Grant requirement that a portion of the funds for the new library building be used to purchase art. The open, spacious design of the new Itasca Community Library provided the perfect setting for a free standing bronze piece such as the one chosen that we have titled “The Gift of a Story.”
Jim Haire was one of several artists considered to design and create the piece. His works are in both national and international collections. Local residents may recognize him as the creator of “Shirley’s Kids,” which stands in front of the Itasca Village Hall, and of “Once Upon a Time,” owned by the Bloomingdale Public Library.
Born in Crawfordsville, Indiana in 1951, Jim grew up in Westchester, Illinois, attended Proviso West High School and later graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.F.A. in painting. It was while attending Northern Illinois University that he developed an interest in bronze casting.
His work on “The Gift of a Story” began in Spring, 1997 with the design, a toddler showing a book to a caregiver, being developed into a maquette, a small clay model representative of the larger bronze sculpture. The most common method of bronze sculpting, and lost wax method, was used to produce the final work.
Interestingly, the design and creation of the bronze sculpture has several Midwest connections. The book that the child is holding, “Wave Good-bye”, was written by Rob Reid and illustrated by Lorraine Williams. Rob Reid is the son of Helen and the late Eldo Reid of Itasca. Mr. Reid is now the children’s librarian at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Paula Potter, who modeled for the caregiver, grew up in Naperville, Illinois, and like sculptor Jim Haire, also attended Northern Illinois University. She now teaches high school in Colorado. The book she is holding is called The Poems of Pat Sellers, a title which was invented by the sculptor.
In December, 1997, “The Gift of a Story” arrived at the Itasca Community Library and was placed in the main reading room. The bronze sculpture is about 45 inches high and weighs about 500 pounds. A dedication ceremony was held on May 31, 1998 which was attended by The Itasca Board of Trustees and staff, Mr. Rob Reid and his family, and many other member of the community.