Pioneer family sculpture returns to Hamilton’s riverfront after nearly a year

After nearly a year’s absence, a sculpture of a pioneer family has returned to Hamilton’s Great Miami River shoreline, near both the historic log cabin and the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument.

The sculpture of a family — a man, woman and their infant — was repaired by Celene and Jarrett Hawkins of the Hawkins & Hawkins studio in Deer Park, which also created the sculpture. It was repaired and re-finished, with the man's musket being replaced.

The sculpture was donated and installed in 2002 by Dr. John A. Stewart and his wife, Marian Vail Stewart, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Stewart Family’s settlement in Hamilton. The faces on the sculpture were created based on a photograph of the couple when they were 25 years old.

“It’s one-of-a-kind, and there’s a story behind it,” said Taylor Stone-Welch, vice president of the non-profit City of Sculpture organization, which cares for more than 50 sculptures across the city, and buys them using private contributions.

The sculpture depicts a man holding a hoe and rifle, representing agriculture and protection. The woman sands beside him, holding the baby and one finger holding a place in a closed Bible.

The Hawkins & Hawkins studio also is the place that produced the “No Child Left Behind” group of sculptures at Hamilton High School to commemorate President George W. Bush’s signing of the education legislation at Hamilton High School on Jan. 8, 2002.

The repairs were “a bit of a long process,” with the artists creating replacement pieces, putting the sculpture back together and refinishing it, Stone-Welch said.

“Whenever we have a sculpture that needs to be repaired or refinished in any way, we reach out to the original artist first, because, since it’s their work, they should have the opportunity to work on it first,” Stone-Welch said. “Just for courtesy, but also, that way we know it’s still what the artist envisioned in the end. Somebody else comes in, they could maybe change it accidentally.”

The next sculpture that likely will be installed will be called “Embrace,” a shiny, 25-foot-tall artwork to be placed in the spring in the new green space area at the newly reconfigured intersection of Main Street with Eaton and Millville avenues. The installation will be a marking of the 20th anniversary of Hamilton being named a City of Sculpture.

Those interested in learning more about the sculptures can obtain for free the Otocast app for smart phones at It contains recorded explanations about all the Hamilton pieces , along with public artworks across the country.

The Octocast app also can tell users about other sculptures wherever they are, such as Chicago or Philadelphia.

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