Lucille Ball originally came from Celoron, New York, a small town in the western part of the state. Celoron decided to celebrate its most famous citizen by commissioning a life-size statue of the legendary TV sitcom star of the ’50s and ’60s, who was one of the most gifted physical comedians of all time. No doubt Celoron also hoped to spur visits to the town by diehard fans of the star.
Unfortunately, what Celoron got was “Scary Lucy,” a large bronze piece that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the familiar redhead. And it’s not because it is an abstract modern art piece, where achieving an actual likeness of the subject is not the principal goal. No, the statue is, in fact, an attempt at a faithful representation of Lucille Ball — it’s just one that fails miserably and is pretty frightening-looking to boot.
The friendly, funny woman from I Love Lucy is depicted with a spoon and what appears to be a bottle of Vitameatavegamin, in a nod to one of the show’s most famous episodes. So far, so good, I guess — although people who don’t know the show might think the statue is supposed to represent a scary governess chasing a young child and insisting he consume a hated spoonful of Castor Oil. But the face and head doesn’t look like Lucille Ball in any way. Instead, they depict a ’50s motorcycle punk apparently turned zombie, with a greased swept-back hairdo, googly eyes, poor dental work and a bad complexion. If you didn’t know it was supposed to be Lucille Ball, you wouldn’t guess it was her in a million years.
The good people of Celoron don’t like the statue, presumably because it gives them nightmares, so they’ve decided to hire another sculptor to “fix” it, even though the original sculptor offered to provide a new statue for free. I have no quibble with the decision not to go back to the well with the original artist — given the quality of this statue, who knows what kind of horror he might produce. But how does an artist “fix” Scary Lucy? Cut off her head and attach a new one? That’s just about as scary as the current effort.
What’s the lesson? Do your due diligence. Before you hire an artist to create a statue or paint a portrait, look at their past work and the people they are trying to represent, and make sure that they are truly up to the job. And if they ultimately produce something that looks terrifying, for God’s sake don’t display it publicly — unless it’s Halloween.