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Superman statue to honor Man of Steel and his Cleveland creators

Model of Superman statue
Siegel and Shuster Society
This half-scale, fiberglass model of David Deming's Superman statue has been on display around Cleveland, giving people a sense of the full-scale model.

A literal Man of Steel could be coming to this metropolis next year. Cuyahoga County Council is working on a project to construct a Superman statue in Downtown Cleveland with the nonprofit Siegel and Shuster Society, named for the North Coast natives who created the enduring superhero.

Cleveland sculptor David Deming has designed a multi-faceted piece, which includes statues of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who met while attending Glenville High School. It also includes Siegel's wife, the inspiration for Lois Lane. Bronze figures of the three will look up at Superman. A phone booth with a “suspicious pile of clothing inside" completes the piece. Deming, whose other work includes statues of Frank Robinson, Jim Brown, Jane Scott and Stephanie Tubbs Jones, said Superman himself will be made of steel.

"I was so confident that this was going to happen... I had the molds taken so that when we got the 'go,' all we had to do was have the foundry cast them,” he said. “So, the good news is that we're not starting from scratch here."

The statue has been nearly 20 years in the making, ever since Deming was president of the Cleveland Institute of Art. He said a site was initially chosen at the end of the proposed land bridge which was to connect Downtown to a spot next to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The bridge was eventually canceled, and the site is part of the Rock Hall's expansion project. Now Superman is going to reside at a planned Siegel and Shuster Tribute Plaza at St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street.

"I think it's going to be one of the things that people are going to want to come to Cleveland to see," he said. "You'll actually be able to see the Superman part of the sculpture, looking down Ontario, from Public Square. He'll be facing the Justice Center, which we thought was apropos. He's flying toward... truth and justice for all, right?"

The nonprofit Siegel and Shuster Society is working to raise $2.5 million for the project: $2.2 million for the statue itself plus a $300,000 endowment for maintenance. A prototype is at the Western Reserve Historical Society, where Deming and others are planning a press conference on Thursday at noon.

It's not the only Superman news in Northeast Ohio this week. Mentor Headlands Beach is being used to film what's widely believed to be the next Superman movie, a reboot of the story which has been thrilling audiences since 1938. The movie is slated for release next summer, just a few months after Deming said he hopes to complete the Superman statue.

In 2015, Deming gave Ideastream Public Media a look at his Superman sculpture in progress.

Sculpting Superman

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.