New sculpture in Prairie Village memorializes ‘freedom of roaming on bicycles’ for ’50s kids

"Fifties Freedom in the Village" is a new public sculpture crafted by SM East graduate Spencer Schubert after being commissioned by SM East graduate Brad Johnson.

A Prairie Village native whose formative years in the city included the “exhilarating sense of freedom roaming on bicycles” in northeast Johnson County has donated a new piece of public art.

The sculpture on the southeast corner of the intersection of 71st Street and Mission, catty-corner from the Village Shops, is entitled “Fifties Freedom in the Village” and depicts a young boy on a bike pointed toward the sky with the help of a ramp elevated by books.

Brad Johnson, a graduate of the SM East class of 1968, first approached the city about the idea of donating the sculpture back in the fall of 2017, and worked with fellow SM East graduate and sculptor Spencer Schubert of E.S. Schubert Sculpture Studios on a design. Johnson donated more than $46,000 toward the fabrication of the work, with a $10,000 in-kind donation made by Schubert in recognition of former SM East art teacher Chuck Crawford.

A plaque installed at the base of the sculpture describes the era the work is meant to commemorate:

The city agreed to spend $30,000 to create the plaza and pedestal on which the sculpture was erected a few weeks ago. First Washington Realty, which owns the land, granted a long-term landscape easement to the city for the installation.

City officials are in the process of planning a dedication ceremony for the statue at some point this summer.