Carving a Peoria legend into a work of art

By Garry Moore

July 8, 2013 Updated Jul 8, 2013 at 9:49 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Richard Pryor was born in Peoria, Illinois. Now he will have a permanent home here.

Artist and sculptor Preston Jackson said he received permission from Pryor's wife, Jennifer, to create a statue of Pryor that will be cast in bronze.

"We like to be entertained," said Jackson. "It's a good feeling to laugh but, on the other hand, he puts forth a truth of how society is, really is. I mean, you know, things about the military, things about economical differences between people and definitely race situations. "

"I think of him not only as a comic, but comedy used a vehicle to say something very serious and very strong," said Jackson.

"Yeah, I chose an age in the middle," said Jackson. "I call it the middle, where he was no longer poor and he was no longer really having to hustle as many actors and actresses do in their career, but where he's comfortable with himself, with his material and he's able to deliver flawlessly, and that's how I want people to remember him when he was at his strongest."

"I said to myself, you know, I'll get this piece done and cast it even if I have to pay for it myself." said Jackson.

"You know, and I didn't want to lay the burden on his relatives you know or Jennifer or anyone like that," continued Jackson, "because I realize the need and the importance of this piece and I just said 'it has to be done' and I will start now."

Preston Jackson is inviting the public to the Contemporary Art Center on August 9 for a celebration of Richard Pryor.

The event, Pryor Played in Peoria First, is free although donations will be accepted.

For more information, call (309) 674-6822.

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