WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Public Arts Commission (WPAC) hosted a dedication ceremony Saturday for a bronze statue placed in the lobby of the Worthington Event Center in memory of the late longtime local artist Mary Kruse Thompson.

Thompson was a skilled artist and willing mentor for many. She influenced and encouraged area artists in their passion, and many such artists attended Saturday to honor her.

Kimberly Kooistra summed up how many felt about Thompson: "I thank the Lord for every day I got to spend with Mary." There were many wet eyes in the room.

Saturday's event has been in the making almost since Thompson's death in November 2019. WPAC worked with artist Arthur Norby, a longtime friend of Thompson's, to choose the statue.

The Kaplan Horse, as it's called, was first sculpted in foam clay, then cast in bronze and given an acid bath to bring out its grey hues. It's one of 10 such sculptures that Norby has made, and was completed around 2004.

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WPAC secured $10,000 from the city of Worthington to purchase the piece of art, and Norby donated the rest of the value of the sculpture.

"What's happened here today is extremely rare," Norby told the audience Saturday, explaining that Thompson's influence was clear by the number of community members who came to the dedication.

He encouraged the community to take the momentum of Saturday's event and put it toward creating a community art collection displaying the work of local artists.

"It's as much your history as the historical society's farm implements," he said.

Following the formal program, attendees stuck around for awhile to admire the statue and share memories with each other of how Thompson impacted their lives.

The public is welcome to visit the event center to view the Kaplan Horse, and Norby encourages everyone to touch the sculpture as part of their experience.