Tabor City’s “Billy” honors paper’s crusading publisher
The North Carolina Press
This article can be found on page four of this pdf from the North Carolina Press.
By Bran Rapp
NCPA Communications Manager
The sculptor from Texas was looking for a way to commemorate great moments of history in bronze.
The publisher from North Carolina was looking for a way to honor a father who had been a part of one of those moments in North Carolina.
In January 2007, they met— and the results of that meeting now stands in front of the new offices of the Tabor-Louis Tribune in Tabor City: A four-foot tall statue of an early 20th century newsboy hawking papers.
Nicknamed “Billy,” the statue not only commemorates the 60-year history of the paper but also vividly honors its most shining achievement, a 1953 Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles against the Ku Klux Klan championed by the Tribune's publisher, W. Horace Carter.
The paper “Billy” holds, and the stack at his feet, are reproductions of the Tribune edition of May 6, 1953, announcing the Pulitzer award — complete with the masthead of the day.
“A lot of times you never know what you’ll get with a sculpture unless you buy it off the shelf,” said Rusty Carter, Horace’s son and president of the Tribune’s Parent company, Atlantic Corp. “But it turned out better than I ever expected. We’ve already gotten an extraordinary amount of comment about it from all over the region.”
The statue is the second in a series created by artist Bridgette Mongeon. The Houston-based sculptor, who has been creating various works of art for more than 22 years, was commissioned in 2004 to create an original newsboy stature for the Texas Press Association, but had not found a buyer for the rest of the series of 10 statues when Rusty Carter contacted her this past January.
“I’d seen a similar statue in the Meyer Art Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M. about three years ago, but the sculptor of that piece was no longer doing them,” Carter said. “The people at the gallery did some checking around and put me in touch with Bridgette.”
Mongeon said her original intent in creating the newsboy statue was to honor the role of the young men (and later, women) played in the evolvement of the print media in America in the last 100 years.
“The fact that the sculpture for Tabor City was going to also be a monument to an important event in the local history of a paper made the project that more inspiring.” She said.
Mongeon completed “Billy” in three months. It was unveiled on April 5, during a dedication ceremony for the new Tribune offices and the presentation of North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine award to Horace Carter by Gov. Mike Easley.
“We spent about $25,000. For the statue, which I though was very reasonable,” Rusty Carter said. “I’m very happy with it — and Dad was extraordinarily happy.”
Mongeon is hoping other papers seeking to commemorate historic headline in bronze will commission her remaining eight pieces.
The full story of the creation of the newsboy collection and Mongeon’s contract information is available online at http://www.creativesculpture.com/texaspress.html