A 13-foot tall sculpture of Wild Bill Hickok on his horse – created with the recommendation of Shawnee artist Charles Goslin – was installed in a prominent spot along Shawnee Mission Parkway on Tuesday, just two days after Goslin’s death at the age of 91 years.
Although the original concept for the large bronze statue was proposed by Goslin two years ago, he has appointed artist Olathe Maretta Kennedy to make it happen.
Kennedy had worked with Goslin and other artists at local art foundries and has particular expertise in bronze and horse sculpture.
The artwork, titled “Trail Scout,” depicts Hickok astride his legendary horse, Black Nell, holding the reins in one hand while waving his hat with the other.
It is thought to complement a relief sculpture of a caravan near Pioneer Crossing Park, 10406 Shawnee Mission Parkway.
Hickok’s piece is positioned to appear as if he is waving to the caravan.
Trail Scout Park is a relatively new park created to enhance the redevelopment of the Nieman Road corridor.
The horse and rider are displayed atop a rock pedestal.
The all-bronze statue stands approximately 2,300 pounds tall and thirteen feet from the tip of the hat, Kennedy said.
The installation at the northeast corner of Nieman Road and Shawnee Mission Parkway went smoothly, he added.
Hickok was a figure in Shawnee history in the 1850s when he began working with a tank commander, according to historical research conducted by Goslin.
His first law enforcement job was as a police officer for Monticello Township, a former town that later merged with Lenexa and Shawnee.
Hickok became known as “Wild Bill” a few years later after moving to Nebraska.
Kennedy did extensive sculpture work in bronze, particularly of horses.
“I think that’s why Charles chose me because I would be able to do a good job with the horse involved,” she told the Post.
He said he used his background working in foundries and with vets and show horses in portraying Black Nell.
Hickok’s horse was the stuff of legends and was said to have once climbed onto a pool table in a bar at Hickok’s behest.
Work on the concept first began in 2019, with preliminary work done by Goslin. But a year later, she stepped back and helped Kennedy with the sculpt.
Initially, the plan was for the two to collaborate with hopes of a completion by the end of summer 2019.
But the project ended up taking more than two years, Kennedy said, due to the coronavirus and his own cancer diagnosis, treatment, and now recovery.
The spread of COVID-19 has led to temporary closures of foundries and has also prevented the two artists from collaborating much, he said.
Kennedy said he understood Goslin had seen photos of the sculpture but died before he had a chance to see it in person.
“Because of his age and with COVID, I really wasn’t able to interact with him much,” she said. “It’s a shame, but I think he was happy about it.”
The city originally budgeted $150,000 for the job, but Kennedy’s offer fell short of that, at $135,000, according to city documents.
This story was originally published in the Shawnee Mission Post.