By Chris Carola
ALBANY, N.Y. — A much-maligned statue of Lucille Ball will get a face-lift after it drew worldwide attention as “Scary Lucy,” according to the mayor of the western New York village where the 1950s sitcom actress and comedian grew up and her life-size bronze has stood since 2009.
Scott Schrecengost said Tuesday that his village will be starting a fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to collect donations to rework the Lucy statue from the shoulders up. Schrecengost said he has spoken to a sculptor who agreed to fix the statue for less than the $8,000 to $10,000 quoted previously by the original sculptor, Dave Poulin.
“We’d like to have better representation of Lucille Ball in her hometown,” Schrecengost said.
The mayor’s comments came only hours after Poulin told the AP he was willing to create a new statue for free. But after Schrecengost said he doesn’t want Poulin to redo the work, even for free.
Poulin said he was “fine” with that decision.
Celoron, a village of about 1,300 on the southeastern end of Chautauqua Lake, found itself drawing national and international attention when a 2012 statue replacement campaign launched on Facebook.
Poulin released a letter Monday evening apologizing for the statue, calling it “by far my most unsettling sculpture.”
Poulin said he was on a family vacation last week when the controversy erupted. By the time he returned last weekend to his home in the area, his work was being vilified online as a “nightmare” resembling a drunken zombie.
He said he has received “hundreds and hundreds” of angry emails and phone messages, including some death threats.
“It’s totally insane,” Poulin said. “There’s a lot of nasty, nasty, nasty things being said about me as an artist and about my work.”
Poulin, who is in his 50s, said that body of work includes creating more than 120 commissioned public sculptures installed across western New York and Pennsylvania.
None of those have ever resulted in similar criticism, he said.
Schrecengost said there was displeasure with Poulin’s Lucy statue, which was created a decade ago, from the moment a local couple donated it to the village and it was unveiled in Lucille Ball Memorial Park in August 2009.
“Everyone was shocked and agreed it wasn’t Lucy,” the mayor said.