October 18, 2010

Benjamin Victor's Mom Should Be Proud

Kristen A. Beall, Ed.D.

Susan Hersberger (Aera Energy LLC), Benjamin Victor (artist), Jeff Pickering (Kern Community Foundation)

On October 15th I had the privilege of joining several hundred people gathered to witness the dedication of the tallest bronze monument in the state of California—the Oilworkers Monument in Taft. Guests on the dais included a mayor, a county supervisor and a United States congressman. In my opinion, however, sculptor Benjamin Victor stole the show.

The dedication kicked off a 10-day celebration of Taft's 100th Anniversary, and Taft native Benjamin Victor's sculpture featuring a 30 foot tall oil derrick and three 8 foot tall bronze oilworkers were the center of attention.  The project was conceived more than four years ago, and was made possible by more than $1.2 million in charitable contributions including a grant from the Aera Energy Fund administered by Kern Community Foundation.

Before being selected through a nationwide search for the Taft project, Victor had already achieved national acclaim as the youngest artist to ever have a sculpture in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capital.  In his remarks, Victor made sure to thank the many artisans and local contributors that made this project possible.  The person he was most grateful for, however, was his mom. Seated in the front row, Joyce Victor's face glowed with pride that her son had done his part to make Taft a better place for us all.

"Sparkplug individuals" like Benjamin Victor are one example of the kind of indicator that Kern Community Foundation looks for when making philanthropic investments in our community.  He's the kind of person that leads by example and delivers results. I was "wowed", along with everyone else who showed up for the dedication.  Well, maybe everyone with exception of Joyce Victor. From the look on her face as they unveiled her son's statues, I'm sure she knew he had it in him.  Great job Benjamin and congratulations to the Taft community for 100 years!

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