News & Press Releases
For Immediate Release

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Monday, June 23rd, 2008
RCA Artist Member Bob Coffee commissioned for Public Art in Georgetown and Dallas

Austin sculptor's work to harken back to Georgetown's roots.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

GEORGETOWN — By late November, residents and visitors will have another reason to check out the courthouse square.

Austin artist Bob Coffee has been commissioned to strike in bronze his sculpture, "Waterin' the Work Mules," as a tribute to the city's early settlers. Coffee was chosen from among 26 entrants by a panel off our residents and three members of the Georgetown Arts and Culture Board.

"When I entered the competition, my first thought was that Georgetown was a creation of the farmers and ranchers who lived east of the town and the cedar choppers and stone cutters who lived west of the city," Coffee, 74, recalled last week at his studio in West Austin.

"Up through the 1930s, most of the work those families engaged in required the strong back of a mule," said Coffee, a retired architect whose Austin-based firm designed parks and public buildings.

Coffee's previous work "Partners" is the centerpiece for theSheriff's Memorial at the Texas Sheriffs' Association in Austin. He is also the creator of the statue of Eeyore the donkey in Eastwoods Park in Austin.

The Georgetown statue depicts two mules. One is drinking from a watering trough while the other stands by patiently. A young boy sits on the back of one mule.

The boy represents Coffee's father, Roy Coffee, who labored with mules on a farm in Wise County during the early half of the 20th century. A duplicate of the 4-foot-high statue stands in a park near Dallas in tribute to Roy Coffee, a lawyer who served as mayor of University Park from 1950 to 1970.

Bob Coffee emphasizes that the Georgetown version of the statue will be the only other copy created. Its mold — fashioned by the sculptor out of Styrofoam and clay — will be shipped to a foundry to be cast in bronze.

The finished piece will be placed on the southeast corner of the square in downtown Georgetown, at Eighth and Main streets, in late November.

The city has set aside $70,000 from its general fund for the project.

Judy Fabry, an administrative assistant at the Georgetown Public Library who acts as a liaison for the arts board, said the selection committee told artists to choose their own theme for their works.

"Our mandate from the city was to purchase artworks for public places," said Ruth Roberts, chairwoman of the board. "It will be on the courthouse square, but it will sit on city-owned property."

The City Council has had a priority for several years to enhance the downtown area.

In November 2006, the arts board commissioned Tony Sansevero to paint rain forest-themed murals in the children's room of the new library.

Money from a library bond issue paid for the work.

Since then, the council members have agreed to give the arts board 0.025 percent of the general fund each year for public art.