Downtown landmark nears completion
by Glenn Moore
Aug 23, 2013 | 5590 views | 4 4 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Landmark statue nearing completion
Rowland Cheney stands next to the “Harvest of Progress,” sculpture he designed for the Sixth Street-Central Avenue roundabout, in his studio in Clements. The sculpture is being cast in bronze.  Courtesy of the city of Tracy
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A statue honoring Tracy’s railroad and agricultural heritage is nearing completion as the final touch for the Sixth Street-Central Avenue roundabout next to the Downtown Plaza.

City officials are still hoping the bronze sculpture, titled "Harvest of Progress," will be in place on the roundabout to be dedicated during the Tracy Dry Bean Festival on Sept. 7 and 8.

William Wilson, manager of the civic arts program and cultural arts at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, said the city expects the statue to be ready sometime between the end of August and the end of September.

It is being cast at the Frostad Atelier Bronze Casting Foundry in McClellan.

"The foundry is hopeful it will be done by the end of the month, but it is unknown," Wilson said. "It is a large, complex piece going in a major intersection."

Rowland Cheney, of Clements, designed and sculpted the work, which was selected by the Tracy Arts Commission in 2010 from a group of 29 designs. The entire roundabout project, including the statue, cost $200,000.

A farmer and a train conductor standing back to back will be mounted atop a 4-foot pedestal already installed at the roundabout.

The finished piece will be 16 feet tall, 11 feet wide and 8 feet deep, weighing nearly 2,000 pounds.

The conductor will face west toward the former railroad town of Ellis, which predated Tracy, and the farmer will face east toward farmland.

Lamps in the base will illuminate the statue, and a light will glow from a lantern in the conductor’s hand.

When completed, the statue will be the largest piece in Tracy’s civic art collection and one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in Northern California, Wilson said.

Because of its size, it is being cast in pieces, which takes longer, Wilson said.

The summer heat has also limited the time the foundry crews can work, which makes it hard to pin down a timetable.

Wilson said the legs are assembled, and the bronze for the remaining pieces has been poured.

Because of the size of the statue, the hollow bronze pieces are being assembled over an armature that Cheney had an engineer design to withstand seismic activity and expected winds at the intersection.

Some electrical work to tie the statue to the base will be completed when it arrives.

Wilson expects the piece to arrive and be installed at night to avoid snarling downtown traffic.

"People will get up to go to work or on the weekend and they will see a new art piece," Wilson said.

The size of the statue, classified as a wide load, will require scheduling its transportation with the California Highway Patrol, which must approve the route from the foundry — about 80 miles from downtown Tracy.

Wilson said it’s typical for a statue of this size and complexity to take as long as a year to build.

"This is a project three years in the making," Wilson said. "We just want to make sure everything is completed correctly."

Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or

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August 24, 2013
Too bad it won't take long for someone to vandalize it once it's installed.
August 24, 2013
Remember this sculpture when the City asks to extend Measure E (tax increase).

The statue will be beautiful, BUT when money is tight, you do the essentials not the luxuries.
August 24, 2013
Can you explain how funds controlled by the Community Development Agency for construction of this project could have been transferred from that agency to the City of Tracy's general-fund (the fund that receives measure E tax revenue).

I can see how the money could have been left unspent by CDA, and I can see how the money could perhaps have been spent on a project in some other city, or even spent on another eligible project in Tracy, but by what process could any of that money be transferred to the City.

Cheers, Steve
August 23, 2013
hmmm.... the sculpture looks alot like the sculptor.

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