Shawnee sculptor Charles Goslin is stepping down from a lead role in creating a statue of Wild Bill Hickok for the city.
He plans to support the new sculptor, a former colleague and local artist named Maretta Kennedy, as she picks up where he left off. Goslin had originally planned to finish the sculpture, but at 89 years old, the task became too monumental to complete alone. As a former mentor to Kennedy, Goslin will collaborate once again with her to finish what he started.
Once completed, Wild Bill Hickok will sit atop his horse at Trail Scout Park, under construction at the northeast corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Nieman Road.
Kennedy’s sculpting background is primarily with horses, especially Morgan horses, a breed well known in American frontier history. She’s often commissioned to sculpt horses who win derbies.
“I’ve just always admired him, he does very nice work and is a lovely man, and knows an incredible amount of history,” Kennedy said of Goslin. “I’m more than honored he endorsed me to do this project.”
Goslin also said he’s “honored” to work with Kennedy.
“I really feel like Maretta is a wonderful, dependable woman, Goslin said. “We’ll see it when she’s finished.”
Neil Holman, director of parks and recreation for Shawnee, said he’s excited to see Kennedy join with Goslin to complete the sculpture.
“It is so intoxicating, just the history, it’s just wonderful the knowledge and history he has,” Holman said, noting Goslin’s excellent paintings. “You could listen to him all day. He’s just been a very good friend and a wonderful person.
“And Maretta is going to be fun to work with. Everything that we’ve really wanted, she really has. We’ve got the vision, exactly what we wanted.”
Holman said he hopes to have a dedication in April 2021.
A life of art, history, culture and friendships
Goslin has a long history of artistry in the Kansas City area, with many paintings and sculptures installed across the metro, including the Korean War memorial at 119th and Lowell in Overland Park and paintings of Campbelltown in Merriam City Hall.
Shawnee is home to about a dozen of his pieces, including sprawling murals inside Shawnee City Hall and two branches of Commerce Bank that depict Shawnee’s 150-year-old history.
Born and raised in Columbia, Mo., Goslin studied at the Kansas City Art Institute where he met his wife of 66 years, Liz.
Their home is filled with paintings and sculptures of their own making as well as historical artifacts and art collections from their many extended trips abroad. They frequently painted and enjoyed sightseeing in Israel, southern France and Italy. Displayed in their home are two of Goslin’s landscape paintings: One overlooking Jerusalem from a high hill, and another of a house in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a small French village near Nice where they stayed for a few months on holiday.
Through his work, he became great friends with historians and curators like Bertha (Garrett) Cameron and Fred McGraw as well as several American Indians, and once taught art classes at Standing Rock, an American Indian reservation in the Dakotas.
“Liz and I both came to really love them and appreciate their culture,” he said of his friendships with American Indian peoples.
The couple settled in Shawnee in the mid-1950s and had two sons and a daughter. They enjoy many grandchildren and great-grandchildren together. He’s particularly proud of his son, Charles E. Goslin, a published author and former CIA agent.
Over the past several years, Shawnee has commissioned Goslin for multiple sculptures, murals and other works. The city even allowed him to set up a small art studio in the fire station on Midland Drive.
Here is a list of a few of his works on display in Shawnee:
- “Quantrill’s Raid on Shawneetown” a sculpted mold in front of Shawnee City Hall, 11110 Johnson Drive
- “Remember Your Baptism” a small fountain in the Shawnee United Methodist Church, 10700 Johnson Drive
- “Taking Time” a sculpture tribute to Chief Charles Bluejacket in Herman Laird Park at the northeast corner of Cody Street and Johnson Drive
- “Service Above Self” a sculpture for Shawnee Rotary Club at Listowel Park at the southwest corner of 71st Street and Quivira Road. He called it “A Hand Up to the World.”
- “Good Shepherd” a 21-foot-high bronze relief at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 12800 W. 75th St.
- “Chief Blackfish” four stacked stones on an American Indian medicine wheel in tribute to Chief Blackfish on the south side of Blackfish Parkway near Summit Street
The 75-foot-long relief of a wagon train is displayed at Pioneer Crossing Park at 10406 Shawnee Mission Parkway. While carving this piece with his son, Goslin discovered fossils of seashells, which may still be visible.
The wagon train at Pioneer Crossing piece connects with Wild Bill Hickok who, once his sculpture is installed, will look back at the wagon train as if he’s telling them to “come on up” the hill.
“It really ties in the whole area,” Holman said.
Goslin made many American Indian friends over the years, including Nathan Longhorn, an Olathe resident and descendant of Shawnee Indian Chief Tecumseh. Goslin’s American Indian friends even blessed some of his artwork, including the stacked stones honoring Chief Blackfish, the “Taking Time” sculpture at Herman Laird Park, and the mural at Shawnee City Hall.
“I don’t think of myself as an artist; I think of myself as a person using my abilities to remember the important people and events from our past,” he said. “Through the years, my friends have contributed so much to what I do.”