By Erin Steele
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO Once upon a time there was an artist who labored to make a sculpture for the bridge in his town.
The sculpture was based on his wifes very favorite tale, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and he worked night and day to mold the clay into its whimsical shape.
Eight years later, the artist found his happy ending: His sculpture, Troll and Billy Goat Gruff, was unveiled in Salado, in front of his wife and many of the townspeople.
When they installed the bridge in 1996 or 97, I came up with the idea of doing Troll and Billy Goat Gruff on the bridge, said Troy Kelley, the Salado artist who crafted the sculpture. It was one of my wifes favorite fairy tales since she was in kindergarten or first grade, so I thought it would be unique to do that.
The statue was dedicated Tuesday morning on the green walking bridge off Main Street in Salado. Mostly big kids came out to celebrate the unveiling, but the enthusiasm was childlike.
The dedication has been a long time coming, Kelley said. Its been so long, now that its finally come, its just like Wow.
Kelley completed the clay in 1998, but it took seven years for the sculptor to finally receive the funding necessary to complete the project. Much of the credit is due to the Public Arts League of Salado, he said, as well as to the Village of Salado and Jackie Mills.
Ramon Carver, the president of PALS, said the Tuesday event showcased the first public arts project the league has helped to produce. He said he was excited that Kelleys work others of which can be found in the springs of Salado and the Salado Civic Center, as well as the Killeen airport can finally be enjoyed by everyone.
This is really remarkable, Carver said during his opening remarks at the dedication. Heres an artist who not only has an idea for what he wants to do, he also does the dirty work.
Carver brought his Living Room Theatre of Salado actors to the event to perform an original Salado-centric work, The True Story of the Troll and Billy Goat Gruff, before the statue was finally unveiled. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cooper accepted the work on behalf of the people of Salado.
Some area residents have already had the opportunity to glimpse the work, which Kelley said he hopes will have an interactive feel to it.
When I was installing it, these three girls walked by. I told them, If you dont rub his hump, thats what your future husband will look like. So two of the girls ran over and rubbed his hump, Kelley said. The third girl, who had this purple-and-green hair, looked over at it and said, I think hes kinda cute.
Kelley ultimately hopes his artwork brings a happily ever after to the people of Salado, as well as to his No. 1 fan.
I think just the unveiling, the response of the people, was great, said Kelleys wife, Vickie. I think the best part is having the public come out and enjoy it.
Anyone interested in contacting the Public Arts League of Salado can reach the organization at (254) 947-3104.
Contact Erin Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org