CHAPEL HILL Susan Brown climbed out of a sick bed Friday afternoon to see workers hoist giant animals off a flatbed truck.
“These are my babies,” the Chapel Hill Public Library director said, as workers settled a giant hare into place. “I couldn’t not be here.”
The animals – a hare, tortoise, snake and frog – will be officially unveiled on the plaza behind the library entrance at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Artist Todd Frahm carved the collection, which he calls “The Grand Intimate,” out of 4,500 pound blocks of limestone.
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They’re not based on a particular book, but the animals pop up often enough – in Aesop’s fables to “The Wind in the Willows” – “the idea is they would plug into any of those roles and it works,” he said.
The town paid $40,000 for the work from a 1 percent for art program that dedicates one percent of the budget for public construction projects to public art and from some additional money from a library gift fund.
Frahm was selected from 235 artists who applied, said Jeff York, the town’s public and cultural art adminisrator. The sculptures are one of two public art projects connected to the library’s renovation in 2013. The other, a multimedia work by artist Erik Carlson, will be installed inside the library later this year.
The four creatures were lifted one at a time Friday and carefully placed on bags of ice on the plaza. The ice let workers remove the straps from the underbellies of the animals and as the ice melted, the sculptures gently sunk into place.
The larger-than-life animals are meant for children to safely sit, play, and read on. The library plans to hold readings and other events on the plaza, and Brown hopes the animals draw people to what is now an underused space.
“We could envision story time out here,” she said. “But mostly they’re out here to delight people.”