RUTLAND— Andrea Mead Lawrence, a Rutland native and environmentalist whom some call Vermont’s greatest athlete of all time, is schussing down a mountain in the newest sculpture unveiled today in downtown Rutland. It is the latest sculpture in Rutland’s growing trail of public art honoring important contributors to the region’s history.
Lawrence is the only U.S. Olympian to win two Alpine skiing gold medals in one year, a feat she accomplished in 1952 at the age of 19. Lawrence learned to ski at Pico Peak, which was owned by her parents, Brad and Janet Mead. After her Olympic career, she founded the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers to preserve the Sierra Nevada. In 2011, President Obama signed the Mount Andrea Lawrence Designation Act, naming a 12,240 peak along the John Muir Trail “Mount Andrea Lawrence.”
The sculpture was designed by Kellie Pereira and sculpted by Steve Shaheen, Alessandro Lombardo and Andrea Ingrassia. The piece is part of a series planned by the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, MKF Properties, Vermont Quarries, and Green Mountain Power’s Rutland Blooms, and was funded by John and Sue Casella.
“I’ve been inspired by Andrea for decades,” John Casella said at the unveiling on Merchants Row, just south of Center Street. “She and her family helped build the ski industry in Rutland County, and she was and remains the premier skier in American Olympic history.
“In honoring her, we are thrilled to also honor our city by contributing to the ongoing series of sculptures that are telling our local and regional history,” Casella said. “We believe in Rutland, and we believe these artworks will play an important role in the city’s and region’s ongoing rebirth, creating pride and beauty, and drawing people into this picturesque and historic downtown.”
Quentin Andrea Lawrence and Matthew Lawrence, two of Andrea Mead Lawrence’s children, attended the unveiling along with relatives of their grandparents, who are being inducted into the Vermont Ski Museum’s Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“Our mother was devoted to Rutland and loved the Green Mountains,” Quentin Andrea Lawrence said, “so it is especially meaningful for her to be honored in this place she cared about so deeply.”
Mark Foley Jr., owner of MKF Properties, said the piece would connect Rutland and the Pico and Killington resorts for generations to come. “We are deeply interconnected socially and economically, and this piece will serve as an enduring reminder of our connection and interdependence,” Foley said. “Interconnectedness is a hallmark of the series, which was born through collaboration and the unique and invaluable resource we have in the Carving Studio.”
Carol Driscoll, executive director of the CSSC, said the series has helped locals and tourists alike to discover the center, where sculptors can create new artwork on a monumental scale in Vermont marble. “I’ve been honored to meet hundreds of new visitors and show them this incredible resource,” Driscoll said. “There is nowhere else in the United States where people have access to high-quality marble, industrial equipment and technical expertise for both the novice and professional to work side by side. These one-of-a-kind sculptures are truly made in Vermont. And the Sculpture Trail is highlighting that fact and providing new, exciting opportunities for artists and the general public. We feel as blessed as the city must feel to have this project off and running.”
The Sculpture Trail also includes a planned work by Don Ramey highlighting Rutlanders’ and Vermonters’ role in the 54th Regiment, the first black regiment created in the Union Army after the Emancipation Proclamation, which is complete and expected to be installed in November; a piece honoring Revolutionary War hero Ann Story, designed by Amanda Sisk and carved by Evan Morse and Taylor Apostol; “The Jungle Book” by Barre artist Sean Hunter Williams; and “Stone Legacy,” a tribute to the region’s stone industry, carved by a team led by Shaheen.
GMP Vice President Steve Costello said organizers are already working on plans for 2019, when they hope to commission and install two to four more pieces. Possible future subjects include Rutland residents and Civil War figures Edward and William Ripley, John Deere, author and Rutland Library founder Julia Dorr, aviation pioneer George Schmitt, Rutland generals Leonard Fish Wing and Leonard Wing Jr., Martin Henry Freeman, Ethan Allen, and Paul Harris of Wallingford, who founded Rotary International.
The newest statue downtown features Andrea Mead Lawrence who grew up at Pico and became an Olympian.