Once Upon a Time by Frank Eliscu

Frank Eliscu
American 1912-1996
Once Upon a Time, 1989

If you visit the Children’s Reading Garden at the southwest corner of the library, you will find a striking reminder of the joy of reading.

Eliscu’s statue of a woman reading to two small children captures the warm and enchanting relationship reading creates. The statue was the first piece of public sculpture in the city of Elmhurst, Illinois. It was purchased with money from The Gavin Memorial Fund, a bequest to the Library from Edith VanDorn Gavin.

At the unveiling ceremony, then Elmhurst Public Library Board of Trustees President John Carroll explained that the Board had commissioned Eliscu to “create a piece that would idealize books and reading and all the joys they can bring to young people and their families.”

The statue was moved from its original location when the new library building opened in 2003.

Eliscu, a well-know and much-heralded American artist, said of Once Upon A Time, “I think this is my best.”

Mr. Eliscu, who was born in New York City, served in the Army in World War II, then taught art for 20 years at the High School of Industrial Art, later the High School of Art and Design, in Manhattan. He became a member of the National Academy of Design in 1967, and from 1967 to 1972 was president of the National Sculpture Society.

Eliscu's career began at a young age. As a recent graduate of the Pratt Institute at 23 years old in Brooklyn, he was commissioned to design the Heisman trophy, his best-known work. He completed it in 1935. The bronze study of a football player running for a touchdown is awarded annually by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York to the best college football player.

Eliscu enjoyed a long and varied career. In addition to Once Upon A Time and The Heisman, Eliscu’s works grace museums, banks, religious buildings, corporate headquarters, and libraries throughout the country.

An article in the Sarasota Florida Herald-Tribune said Eliscu believed artists are meant to nudge people a little, “to make us stop and look at something in a new way.”

Elmhurst Public Art Tour
  1. SkyCube by David Wallace Haskins
  2. Bird City Saint by Sentrock
  3. Curl by Tom Waldron
  4. Figure in the Garden by Abbott Pattison
  5. Art from the Heart by John Nester
  6. You Are Beautiful by Matthew Hoffman
  7. Sistine Touch by Bob Emser
  8. Once Upon a Time by Frank Eliscu
  9. Eric Carle Collection
  10. Crashing Waves by Eleanor King Hookham
  11. Be Bold. Be Elmhurst by Rafael Blanco & Andrew Sobel
  12. There Was A Vision by George Melville Smith
  13. Elmhurst University Art Collection, A.C. Buehler Library
  14. Bicentennial Fountain
  15. Millennium Fountain
  16. Portal by Nicole Beck
  17. Steel Globe by Poblocki Sign Company
  18. Color Rain