Norman Rockwell Sculpture Approved Despite Planning Commission Denial

A Norman Rockwell sculpture will be built in the Village Center after Roy Reiman made a case for the sculpture.

A sculpture of Norman Rockwell will be built in the Village Center, even though the Planning Commission recommended denial of the proposal.

In a 5-1 vote Tuesday night, the Greendale Village Board went against the commission’s recommendation, allowing Grandhaven, LLC to move forward with the privately-funded statue of the famous painter and illustrator.

Roy Reiman, founder of Reiman publications and owner of Grandhaven, LLC, spoke in favor of the sculpture, and said it had the potential to attract more visitors to the Village Center.

“I’ve been looking for some gimmick that will attract people, especially that million market to Greendale,” said Reiman who also said the sculpture was not his idea. “We need a ‘Gotta see this in Greendale.’”

But when the

President John Hermes, who also sits on the Planning Commission was the sole vote against the proposal. Trustee Carl Genz was absent.

Grandhaven is the landlord of the Village Center shops and is owned by Roy Reiman. Reiman is the founder of Reiman Publications and has been credited with restoring the vitality of the Village Center 15 years ago.

Greendale has been marketed throughout the years as a Norman Rockwell-type of town, mostly by Reiman Publications and the .

In his speech to the board Reiman explained that prior to the purchase of Reiman Publications by Reader’s Digest he was able to write letters in all the publications to their millions of readers inviting them to Greendale. He is no longer able to do that. The Greendale Visitor Center, formerly known as the Reiman Visitor Center, was once managed and operated by Reiman Publications. Readers Digest decided they no longer wanted to take part in the visitor center and Grandhaven lost a tenant that paid $180,000 a year.

In order to keep the center from closing, Grandhaven took over management of the location.

In recent years the number of visitors and bus tours have declined. Grandhaven and Reiman hope the sculpture would serve as an attraction to bring in more visitors. 

Reiman said he doesn’t want people saying “I don’t like it. It was Reiman’s idea and he put it there.”

“The only way it’s going to go there is if you collectively think it’s a good idea…but I will ask: Do you have any better ideas,” Reiman said in his speech to the board. “We’re open to ideas. We need something new different, interesting…something people talk about.”

Trustee Ron Barbian said he believes the sculpture will bring people to the Village Center and the safety hazard reason for the commission denying the request was “baloney.” He said the sculpture would serve as a distraction the same as any other advertisement sign.

“We should not try to second guess a well-respected man that has done great things in business and has moved forward,” said Trustee Greg Turay. “He’s making this as a business decision to help the properties down here to generate more traffic.”

The construction of the sculpture will start along with the re-pavement of the Village Center parking lots. The Village will reserve the right to remove the sculpture if ever it feels it no longer serves the interest of Greendale.

Bren July 06, 2012 at 01:45 PM
This is an interesting development. Never mind that Norman Rockwell was an illustrator and (very) minor painter who catered to a nostalgic public but toward whom critics were cool, or that he was New York-born, never set foot in Greendale and was never drawn to the project during its construction or afterward, favoring as he did scenes of old New England and New York; if one special individual in town wants a statue of Norman Rockwell in the middle of town we shall have it. To accompany our newest artistic offerings, which includes Norman Rockwell and LED signage (nothing screams "historic district" like a LED sign), I propose we add another artist to the lineup. Hugo Ball (1886-1927) was a German artist and poet, who like Rockwell, never set foot in Greendale. Going one step further, he died before Greendale was even built (take that, Rockwell!). Ball's claim to fame was not painting pretty scenes for Boy's Life and the Saturday Evening Post; it was co-founding the Dadaist Movement in 1916 and confounding public and critics alike with "sound poetry." Please refer to the photo uplinked above to view his most iconic costume. The link below offers another popular costume, one of these would be perfect for the new Dada statue. I further propose that the base of the Dada statue include a microphone, from which a 24-hour repetition of his famous sound poem, "Karawane," read here by Marie Osmond, could be broadcast. Thoughts? ; ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USTQgu229Wc
Lisa417 July 06, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Sounds good Bren, it makes as much sense as Norman Rockwell. We need new trustees. I will be boycotting the village stores until our leadership regains common sense or we elect new trustees that make decisions based on what is best for ALL in our community and not just the businesses or Mr. Reiman.
pooksilby July 06, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Just plain flat out agree. The citizens need to take back control as in the proposed widening of 84th Street and building a new middle school. Surely there are talented people in Greendale that can offer their services in helping pump up the "traffic" in the village.
designerconcerns July 06, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Whay are we wasting the Planning Commission's time if the Village Board is going to overturn their recommendations?? This seems to be a pattern...I get so angry everytime I drive home the incredibly aestically UNpleasing LED sign. As I understand it, the Planning Commission denied the horribly inappropriate free-way overpass archway sign; next to the LED; sooooo, I imagine we will see construction starting any day now. I'm seeing the charm being taken right out of our "charming little village".
Viviana Buzo (Editor) July 06, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Hello everyone, The story has been updated.
Susie L July 06, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I would vote for a statue of FDR, since it was kind of his idea ;-)
Bren July 07, 2012 at 12:24 AM
So after reading the update I agree: historic Greendale needs a "gimmick." Let's take the Hugo Ball concept and take this statue to about 30 stories high so that he can be seen for miles as an attractive beacon to Greendale from the land and air. He could straddle the "underutilized" parking lot. Inside could be housed the Greendale Historical Society. The 24-hour "Karawane" poem broadcast would need a higher-powered and higher-decibel broadcasting system such as the Emergency Warning System, which it would replace so that outlying communities that can see the statue may also immerse in Dada. Poetry readings could be interspersed with inspiring Greendale message points such as "Welcome to Historic Greendale." In addition, Greendale would achieve international recognition through its appearance in the Guiness Book of Records as having the largest free-standing statue of a Dadaist in the world. The new Bartolatta's would become the new "Cafe Voltaire," featuring "Dada evenings" of poetry reading, mask prancing, and other acts of artistic depravity; with senior and student discount prices. The Greendale Visitor's Center would of course stock statues in many sizes of Hugo Ball and posters describing the frenetic Dadaist's intimate relationship with Greendale. Some statues could have clocks or miniature LED signs ("Welcome to Historic Greendale") in the belly. Of course Norman Rockwell would look good at 30 stories too. We also need a reality TV show, "Roy's Town."
Catherine July 07, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I'm so confused. Did Norman Rockwell ever come to Greendale? Granted, Greendale does look like a New England village but, come on...Norman Rockwell? Is that what Greendale is all about? Love the Dadaist idea, though!
Janie July 07, 2012 at 02:13 AM
I think it is a good idea, but the location is very wrong. They need to move things around the village, set things up for a walking tour for all the bus loads of people coming in. Maybe should have it in Daffodil park or on the south side of the village center.
Greendale Citizen July 07, 2012 at 04:11 PM
The Village Trustees seem to be afraid to say no thank you to Mr. Reiman. Has he done many great things for the village that he part time lives in? An outstanding YES! But, what the board is failing to realize is that Norman Rockwell is Mr. Reiman's passion and hobby, not that of the citizens. Grow some backbones! This can't be a village of "whatever Mr. Reiman wants he shall get."
Bren July 07, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I want to make it clear that I have great respect for Mr. Reiman and his commitment to Greendale. My concern is the integrity of the village as a historic district. I think that for some people "new" is better. Turning downtown Broad Street into strip malls (I can't believe that's what it looked like before) was a "new" idea at the time but in its current appearance it has lost much of its flavor. The Greendale Historical Society is trying to get formal historic landmark status for the Village and their application discusses some of the degradation that has already occurred. Strip malls, LED signs, a developer who has plans for the only village parking lot (who never even bothered to look at the original blueprints by the way), increases the homogenization. Having driven past historic markers in the south, marking sites of Civil War battles where commerce now stands, etc., I realize how easy it is to lose the past unless we make a concerted effort to preserve it. A Norman Rockwell statue isn't going to destroy Greendale, but like the Fonzi statue in downtown Milwaukee, it will contribute nothing. No one will come just to see a statue of Rockwell. Comments such as "it looks like a Norman Rockwell town" are a compliment to the unique flavor of the village. If we want more compliments we need to direct efforts toward restoration, not homogenization. If Mr. Reiman will redirect his investments toward restoring what was the Norman Rockwell statue is a small price to pay.
Bren July 07, 2012 at 07:59 PM
The sign is awful, isn't it. And to yhink how much money was spent on it makes me sick. Why should the entire village suffer because a few people have no taste.
Greendale Citizen July 07, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Citizens of Greendale...read your Village Newsletter. John Hermes wrote an outstanding article regarding what direction the village needs to head in. I don't always agree with Mr. Hermes, but this time around I think he's on the right track.
Lisa417 July 07, 2012 at 08:57 PM
There isn't even a clear view of the sign at the stop light, east bound on Grange. There is a pole in the way. Great planning!
SWeimer July 07, 2012 at 09:31 PM
When the reason you put a sculpture of a painter in the Village who by the way has no connection to the village is because "We haven't got a better idea" is very telling about our Trustees. If a sculture is needed to bring people to the Village wouldn't it make more sense to have one of Eleanor Roosevelt......at least she visited and dedicated the village. It's time for a new group of Trustees to be voted in. I have great respect for Mr. Reiman but this sculpture of Rockwell is a little over the top even for him
Dr, Deb Harding July 07, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Several weeks ago, I was pulling out of my driveway on Apricot Court and saw two middle-aged couples looking at our home. I rolled down my window and said, "Welcome to Apricot Court." They were from out of town and had a brochure from the visitor's center. It said that Apricot Court was friendly and "charming," so decided to explore it. They asked questions about the Originals. I asked them if they had ever been in one, and they replied that they hadn't. Much to the amazment of my out-of-state-friend-who-was-visiting, I invited them into see our home. They were surprised and thrilled! I gave them my usual Greendale Original chat, when folks come to visit - quoting Eleanor Roosevelt and explaining the English garden theme. They were intriugued, loved the house, and asked tons of questions. We even went into the back yard so they could see how we backed up to a park. We had a wonderful time. Now, I am nothing special - but I LOVE showing off my Original. Perhaps if tours included visiting a couple of Originals -- it would entirce more visitors. As far as the Rockwell statue is concerned. I am originally from New England..."real" Rockwell country. To me, Rockwell represents America at its best. He kind of belongs to all of us. I do NOT like the LED sign...but I would open my home for tours and a glass of lemonade and share about our wonderful village. People are curious about us - we need to stoke that nostalgia.
Lisa417 July 07, 2012 at 10:14 PM
It seems like you shared a wonderful experience with those couples, one that others including myself would appreciate. I live in Greendale but have never been inside an original home. I'm sure touring an original would be a great way to lure tourism to our village instead of a statue of Norman Rockwell. Maybe Mr. Reiman, the Village, or the Historical Society could purchase an original close to the village shops for tour groups.
Dr, Deb Harding July 08, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Lisa - I would be happy to give you a tour! Deb
Richard Sheridan July 08, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I have to say President Hermes is on the right track for the Village but his methods are clumsy and heavy handed. He needs a muse who guides him or he will self destruct.
Jason Patzfahl July 09, 2012 at 11:46 AM
A statue of Eleanor Roosevelt would make a better fit for Greendale, but then again she was a die-hard progressive and Mr. Reiman is a die-hard conservative who regularly donates the maximum amount to right wing candidates. I don't think the statue will hurt - and Reiman is paying for it out-of-pocket, but historically, it just doesn't make nearly as much sense as a Roosevelt statue.
Dr, Deb Harding July 09, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I would love to see a statue of Eleanor in the village. It makes great sense....please don't tell me that Mr. Reiman is donating to Mitt.
Carol July 27, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Say no to Roy Reiman? You have got to be kidding! If it wasn't for him , this village would not be what it is today, so be thankful for him. He is the one who had the Norman Rockwell collection of prints at the Visitor Center, so respect the "statue"!
Diana Van Heesch August 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM
I also would like to see a statue of Eleanor. I know they are expensive. But it would be fun to see statues of children having fun placed around here and there. I like the house tour idea too. I'm not real good on ideas. Maybe we can hear more from others out there.
KJD September 08, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I think the statue is charming and I love the idea of an Original, perhaps decorated in period furniture, open for tours!


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