By Leslie Bruning, 2010
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Plaza
Omaha, NE (Downtown)
25' x 8'
Galvanized Steel, Aluminum,
LED Lights, Motorized Head
O! DUDE is a causal portrait of Omaha. In most respects the interaction among the citizens of Omaha and their out-of-town visitors happens causally, over a chance encounter on the street, on the offering of assistance to someone who appears lost, or over a cup of coffee or some other beverage. It is this neighborly quality that most defines us to our visitors as they spend time in Omaha. We encounter them at cultural events, business conferences, entertainment venues, or at sporting events. Our encounters are by chance and usually one on one.
This sculpture is not a naturalistic portrayal of a young man relaxing after run or jog in the city, but it is an attitudinal portrait of a person at ease. We are aware that once we get to know a person as a person, the surface features of one's skin and the shape of their body becomes secondary to the values and attitudes that radiate from that person. In my mind, that is a much more revealing and realistic portrait than any careful rendering of the textures and clothing of a well crafted figure.
Structurally, the sculpture is constructed of tapered, curving steel light-poles signifying the legs, arms, and torso of the figure. The hands, the four feet long shoes, and the head, complete with a baseball cap with the 0! logo, were modeled in clay and cast in aluminum. This gives a nice organic feel to the figure. These features were powder coated in the selected colors.The shorts and the T-shirt are fabricated in expanded aluminum and powder coated to the desired colors. Using aluminum, there will never be a problem of rusting or other deterioration. The shaped shorts and shirt appear translucent, allowing the viewer to see the structure inside the person. Within the chest and visible through the mesh of the T-shirt is a large red 0 with a heart (the valentine heart) lit with LED lights so that it glows inside the chest. This somewhat subtle element becomes apparent as the viewer approaches the figure.
Another dynamic feature of the sculpture is having the O! Dude turn his head almost a quarter turn when it is activated by a motion sensor switch. Note that the backside of the figure is positioned toward the intersection of 13th and Howard Streets. This casual positioning forces the interested viewers to walk around the LED video screen to visually engage the whole figure and in that process also engage the whole plaza. This is the movement that will activate the head of the sculpture. The quiet movement of the head gives the 0! Dude a sense of life and is akin to the welcoming nod we give as we each other as we pass on the sidewalk. Welcome to Omaha.