All across campus, there are busts of many famous people. To me, it is one of the defining features of main campus, and one of the first things I noticed when I toured Chapman.
According to tour guide Aurora Fimiani, certain donors choose a person they admire for the statue. Below each bust is a quote from the subject, a plaque commemorating when it was dedicated and who donated it, as well as recognizing the artist who made the bust.
There are statues of national and international heroes, recognizing people who have achieved incredible things: from Martin Luther King to Winston Churchill, but when it comes down to “Best Bust”, I believe that has nothing to do with the content of their character, and more about how entertaining their bronze statue is.
I’m a simple man, I like a fun hat. So, naturally the busts of Ronald Reagan and R.C. Hoiles stand out to me. Reagan dons a classic cowboy, while Hoiles’s is more of a fedora.
Of course, I would be remiss to not mention Charles C. Chapman. His large statue, on a pedestal right past Schmid gate, is surrounded by flowers and it’s one of the most picturesque spots on campus. But, unfortunately, he has legs, so I don’t think he qualifies as a bust.
When I asked Fimiani, she said she thought the best bust at Chapman was the large one of Albert Schweitzer in front of Argyros Forum. This bust is often emphasized on tours when tour guides talk about the intellectual component of being a Panther. I went to check it out — boring. Only a head and shoulders, I want something more interesting than that. I want pizzaz!
Some of the best busts at Chapman are sort of tucked away. There are plenty of busts lining the sidewalks of main campus, but there is also a large amount on the sides of Musco lawn, a space less visible to most students on their daily walks.
This strip of statues features many notable people involved the performing arts — musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald (2nd place in my statue ranking) to composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (14th place, sorry Wolfgang). The best bust at Chapman stands in this area: the statue of legendary singer Ethel Merman. Merman was a famous actress and singer, known for her notable voice and many roles in musical theatre. However, her ranking has nothing to do with her accomplishments.
Merman’s bust is one of the only busts at Chapman (hats notwithstanding) that is not just a persons face. It shows her, full of life, with one arm extended and the other arm nonexistent. Merman was known as a vivacious person and this statue captures her eccentricity, you can almost hear her trumpet-like voice. Unlike many of the other busts on campus, this piece feels truly representative of the person and her contributions to her field. The way the Merman bust captures how full of life she was makes it an easy winner for “best bust at Chapman.”
The Abraham Lincoln bust is an honorable mention, but it is out for matinaneance and therefore can not qualify for the ranking at this time. Also, he isn’t even wearing his signature fun hat.