Fifteen sculptors submitted qualifications to the secretary of state's office to design and cast a statue of Little Rock Nine mentor Daisy Gatson Bates, and 16 sculptors submitted qualifications to do that work on a statue of musician Johnny Cash.
The two statues will eventually be placed in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol to represent Arkansas.
The requests for qualifications were sent to 31 interested parties and prospective sculptors on Sept. 4, according to Republican Secretary of State John Thurston's office.
The deadline for prospective sculptors to submit their qualifications to Thurston's office was Monday at 4 p.m.
The selection committee for the sculptors consists of the National Statuary Hall steering committee and the Capital Arts and Grounds Commission, said Kurt Naumann, director of administration for the secretary of state. That steering committee is an advisory group chaired by Arkansas State University System Vice President for University Relations Shane Broadway.
"The selection process may take several months," Naumann said Tuesday in a written statement. "I'm hoping for the first of March to select the three finalists, have them make clay models, select the finalist, then negotiate the contract."
The two statutes must be completed and ready for shipment to Washington, D.C., by Dec. 31, 2021, under the schedule outlined in the secretary of state's request for qualifications, but it allows some wiggle room on extending that deadline.
According to information from the secretary of state's office, the names of the sculptors who submitted information to work on the Bates statue and their corporate names and locations are:
• Clay Enoch, J.K. Designs Inc. of Colorado Springs, Colo.
• Jane DeDecker, J.K. Designs Inc. of Loveland, Colo.
• Craig Campbell, J.K. Designs Inc. of Wichita, Kan.
• J. Brett Grill, JBG Sculpture of Grand Rapids, Mich.
• Cory Beltz, MTM Recognition Corp. of Oklahoma City.
• Benjamin Victor, Benjamin Victor Studios Inc. of Boise, Idaho.
• Zenos Frudakis, Frudakis Studio Inc. of Glenside, Pa.
• Chad Fisher, Fisher Sculpture LLC of Moorestown, N.J.
• Dora Natella, Dora Natella of Granger, Ind.,
• Fred X. Brownstein, Fred X. Brownstein of North Bennington, Vt.
• Kevin Kresse, Kevin Kresse of Little Rock
• Lori Norwood, Lori Norwood of Lawrence, Kan.
• Nilda Comas, Legacy Art Studio of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• Ivan Schwartz, StudioEIS Inc. of Brooklyn, N.Y.
• John Deering, Deering Studio of Little Rock.
According to the secretary of the state's office, the sculptors who submitted qualifications to work on the Cash sculpture include Kresse, Fisher, Deering, Frudakis, Schwartz, Comas, Victor, Grill, Natella, Beltz, DeDecker and Campbell.
The others are:
• Gregory Marra, Marra Studios of Port Charlotte, Fla.
• Antonia Mendez, Toby Mendez Studios of Knoxville, Md.
• Blair Buswell, Buswell Bronze of West Pleasant Grove, Utah.
• Evan Collier, ARCH Production & Design NYC of Blauvelt, N.Y.
The secretary of state's appropriation for the project is $750,000, and "we will reevaluate the appropriation as soon as contract[s] with successful sculptor(s) are executed," Naumann said in September.
So far, the contributions for the statutes total $146,025, said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
They include a $100,000 contribution from Walmart on April 17, a $300 contribution from former U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder of Little Rock on July 30, a $725 contribution from the Kitchen Cabinet of Lingle Law Firm of Rogers on Aug. 5 and a $45,000 contribution from Little Rock on Sept. 17, according to a list provided by Hurst.
Hurst also is director of the Foundation for Arkansas Heritage and History, which is a nonprofit that supports the Division of Arkansas Heritage and agreed to be a repository for private charitable gifts for designing and creating the statues. It will turn over donations to the secretary of state's office.
Little Rock agreed in a settlement with the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to contribute $45,000 from its general fund to the construction of the statue of Bates. The settlement arose after the staff removed a statue of a Confederate soldier from the MacArthur Park grounds in June at the direction of Mayor Frank Scott Jr. City and state officials disagreed about whether Little Rock violated the condition of a grant agreement with that removal.
In 2017, Little Rock received a $100,000 grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to restore the facade of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, and as a condition of receiving that grant, the city gave the state an easement on the land where the monument, known as "Memorial to Company A, Capitol Guards," stood.
In 1864, Congress passed a law inviting each state to submit up to two bronze and marble statutes to be placed in what is known as Statuary Hall. As the number of statues grew, the statues spread to other areas in the U.S. Capitol.
Under Act 1068 of 2019, the Arkansas Legislature decided to have statues of Bates and Cash placed in the U.S. Capitol to replace Arkansas' two statues there. Arkansas' current statues are of the late attorney Uriah Rose and the late U.S. Sen. and Gov. James P. Clarke.
The Arkansas Legislature approved a marble statue of Rose in 1917 and a marble statue of Clarke in 1921.
Act 1068 of 2019 requires the secretary of state to receive funds for the design, completion, transport and display of the Bates and Cash statues. The funds can include appropriations, private gifts, grants and donations from individuals and organizations.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he is committed to having both statues installed in Washington, D.C., before he leaves office in January of 2023.