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Omaha Readies For Humans on Parade

05 April 2001

Fiberglass cows in artistic hues and patterns graced the sidewalks of Chicago and New York. New Orleans displayed 5-foot-high fantastic fish; Norfolk, Va., dreamed up a medley of mermaids and fiberglass moose stalked Toronto and Whitefish, Mont. Now Omaha is joining the parade -- with plastic people.
Cow statues would seem ideal for this former stockyard city, but since they had already been used, local artists who brainstormed a summer public art project settled on a generic human form. The 6-foot-tall, genderless statues are titled J. Doe. The artists said the softly rounded statues represent the friendly people that the Midwest is known for.
Human-based exhibits also are planned this summer in St. Louis (mannequins) and Los Angeles (angels). Omaha's project organizers hope the Does, on display from May through September, will help raise the city's profile.
How many J. Does will appear on Omaha sidewalks depends on how many sponsors commit $2,500 for each statue. So far, 70 have been sponsored and 30 more are being designed.
The body of one Doe depicts weather scenes and comes with a moving umbrella. Another, painted with human silhouettes, was titled ``Group Hug.'' Some Does feature more radical changes. The Doe that will sit outside the city's main arts venue, the Orpheum Theater, resembles a cello player morphed into his instrument.