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Artist Who Dressed as Construction Worker & Clown to Be Commemorated with Statue in Covington

The Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower will be unveiled during the Sept. 15 grand opening of The Center for Great Neighborhoods’ new office complex at the Hellmann Creative Center and its 40th anniversary celebration. The event will be from 4-7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The Spirit Tower is an outdoor sculpture created by international sculptor Tom Tsuchiya, commemorating the life and legacy of the late Raymond Thunder-Sky, a Native American labeled with a developmental disability. He traveled around the region dressed as a construction worker and clown, drawing construction and demolition sites in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky.

The statue, originally designed by Tsuchiya in 2011 as an ice-sculpture, transforms Thunder-Sky into a skyscraper, concretizing his obsession with construction and demolition. Tsuchiya with give a short talk about the creation of the sculpture, as well as what Thunder-Sky meant to his creative process.

Tsuchiya is known for his sculptures of Cincinnati Reds baseball players in front of Great American Ball Park. His work has also been on display in Fountain Square, Grand Central Terminal, and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He also designed the NFL Madden Most Valuable Protector Award.

The Center for Great Neighborhood’s new office complex is located at 321 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (at Fisk) in Covington, in the former Hellmann Lumber Mill. Works by local artists commemorating Thunder-Sky’s legacy will be on view in the center, as well as a video documenting an educational program that took place at the Carnegie this summer in which Thunder-Sky’s drawings were used as inspiration for short plays.

The Spirit Tower was funded by a creative community grant awarded by The Center for Great Neighborhoods, which focus on the theme of inclusion. This project was chosen as an addition to their campus to help promote the message that everyone has creative talents to offer their community.

Coming up in April, Demolition Man: Selected works from the Raymond Thunder-Sky Archives, the first retrospective of Thunder-Sky’s works since his death in 2004, opens April 28, 2017 at the Carnegie.

All of Thunder-Sky’s drawings can be viewed at www.raymondthundersky.org.

-Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts