Artwork a tribute to 100 years of Black Hawk Statue

–May 20 ‘Cowboy Up for Black Hawk’ event to help raise funds for restoration of Black Hawk Statue in Oregon, Ill.

Staff Report

OREGON, Ill.—The Oregon Trail Days Festival Committee has commissioned a distinctive work of art to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Black Hawk Statue, created by famous sculptor Lorado Taft. The work of art by watercolor artist Jody Bergsma is called “Eternal Spirit,” and features Black Hawk, Tipis and eagles. Prints will be sold at the May 20 “Cowboy Up for Black Hawk” event, sponsored by the festival committee.

“Cowboy Up for Black Hawk” will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, May 20, at Maxson’s Riverboat and Restaurant, 1469 N. Ill. Route 2, Oregon, Ill. Maxson’s will serve barbecue and beef sandwiches, coleslaw and baked beans. Work by area artists will be auctioned, and the event will feature Lorado Taft presentations and music.

All funds raised for Black Hawk are being sent to the Illinois Conservation Foundation, which is handling the restoration of the statue.

Cost of the event is $20 per person and $30 per couple. The event is casual, and cowboy attire is strongly encouraged, but not necessary. Prizes will be given for best cowboy and cowgirl look.

Pre-reservations can be made by e-mailing or calling (815) 732-2435. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

For those who cannot attend the event, donations can be sent to Oregon Trail Days, 500 N. Fourth St., Oregon, IL 61061 (write “Black Hawk” in the memo line).

Bergsma has been painting Native American themes for 30 years. Her study of their art, symbols and myth is often combined with wildlife to create intriguing images rich with meaning.

Bergsma chose eagles for the backdrop to the sculpture because the eagle is an important icon for all Americans. She said a colony for artists called “Eagles Nest” deserves to be remembered…a place where fledgling creatures can stretch their wings as they learn to fly.

To the North American Indian, the eagle is also the symbol for “The Great Spirit” and an important personal “Totem.” They are the fathers of the sky and a great reminder of our own ability to soar to great heights.

The tipis in the picture not only represent Native Americans, but they are an icon of the Oregon Trail Days Festival. The event was created to celebrate the Native American and Western Heritage of the area, and is held in Lowden State Park in Oregon, Ill. More than 50 tipis welcome visitors to the park for the annual event. Prior to the festival, 23 painted tipis are displayed throughout the City of Oregon to bring awareness of Oregon Trail Days. This grouping is known as the “The Oregon Trail of Painted Tipis.”

The artwork was created as a fund-raising tool for the restoration of Black Hawk and the 100th anniversary celebration being held July 16-17. One hundred signed, numbered and matted prints of “Eternal Spirit” will be sold for $100 each. Prints will be available after May 20 at the Eagles Nest and Merlin’s. All festival merchandise is available by contacting the festival at or (815) 732-2435. Visit

From the May 18-24, 2011 issue

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