Internationally known artist Donald Lipski will craft a giant box of chocolates as the major piece of artwork for the Pinnacle Bank Arena's south lobby.

The "Candy Box" will celebrate Lincoln's history as a candy manufacturing town, and individual candy pieces will be in shapes important to arena events and to the city's culture and history, according to the artist’s proposal.

Lipski, who lives and works in Philadelphia, is best known for his public art, including “Gathering Dust,” now featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and “The Yearling,” outside the Denver Public Library.

"Gathering Dust" is comprised of thousands of tiny sculptures pinned to the wall. "The Yearling" is a whimsical sculpture of an oversized, 21-foot tall red chair with a life-sized pinto pony standing on the seat.

The Joint Public Agency, the three-member group overseeing construction of Lincoln's new arena, is expected to approve the $317,000 contract for the "Candy Box," which includes fabrication and installation.

The contract also includes artist fees of $63,000, and engineering and light designer fees of $10,000.

Lipski's work for the arena is to be a "heroic box of candy," 21-feet-by-4 feet, slightly smaller than the northwest wall where it will be placed.

Each candy piece would be designed, much as the hand-dipped chocolates were in Lincoln factories for nearly a century.

The traditional caramels, nut clusters and cream-filled bonbons will be interspersed with chocolates in shapes important to the arena and the state, according to Lipski's proposal. 

"Perhaps chocolate basketballs, ice skates, a mortarboard for graduation, locomotives, ears of corn, tractors, the Capitol, the Pinnacle Bank logo, the arena itself."

The list is endless, according to Lipski, who said he will gather ideas from the community.

"The format is broad enough to include a wide range of emblems that reflect Nebraska’s rich traditions and strongly held values."

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The individual chocolates will be computer modeled, hand sculpted and then built of structural fiberglass, with a highly durable gel-coat faux chocolate coating.

Behind each chocolate will be LED lights, which will float each piece in a pool of soft light reflecting off an enameled back wall. Additional external lighting would dramatize the sculpture.

A shallow, enameled steel box will surround the piece, containing it like a gift box.

Lipski was among more than 200 artists who provided resumes and three who made the short list and were asked for specific proposals, said Paula Yancey, arena coordinator. 

Mayor Chris Beutler selected Lipski after a committee reviewed the proposals.

The contract is part of the $1.5 million budgeted for arena-related art, according to Yancey. That covers the lobby, the arena's outdoor plaza, and if money is available, artwork on Canopy Street, she said. 

Lipski has described his own work in this way: “I strive to both seduce and challenge the viewer, to provide wonder and delight … to lead him to question, to make his own metaphors."

Reach Nancy Hicks at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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