‘Embracing Peace’ exhibit unveiled

Life-size sculpture is first project in ‘Arts on Main’ initiative

The Seward Johnson sculpture “Embracing Peace” is unveiled Oct. 14 outside American Legion Post 160 and the Yukon Veterans Museum: From left, Veterans Museum founder/curator Rick Cacini, Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby, Assistant to the City Manager Jason Beal, and Yukon 66 Main Street Board President Kay Casper. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Associate Editor

A new public art exhibit is the first project of Yukon 66 Main Street’s “Arts on Main” initiative.

“Embracing Peace” is on display outside the American Legion Post 160 Building and Yukon Veterans Museum, 1010 W Main.

A visionary, artist and philanthropist, Seward Johnson created this life-sized sculpture depicting an iconic post-World War II image.

“I wanted to evoke a time of unity, a time without the divisiveness of today,” said Johnson, who died in 2020 at age 89.

“The moment captured in the work encapsulates the spirit of having fought a successful campaign defending human rights, our shared values, and that celebrates peace.”

Johnson’s impressive artwork was revealed to loud applause during a kickoff ceremony Oct. 14 for Yukon Main Street’s fourth annual Yukon Salutes banner program.

The public is invited to stop by 1010 W Main to admire and take pictures of the “Embracing Peace” art exhibit. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

Helping with the unveiling were Yukon 66 Main Street Board Secretary Angie McPherson, Yukon Chamber of Commerce CEO/Main Street Board Member Pam Shelton, Yukon Veterans Museum founder/curator Rick Cacini, and Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby.

The Embracing Peace sculpture is on loan for one year through the non-profit Seward Johnson Atelier Foundation.

The public is invited to come see the outdoor exhibit and reflect on this historic moment captured in time – symbolizing the joy felt at the end of World War II.

Embracing Peace is inspired by the photo by Lt. Victor Jorgenson, who was a former Navy photojournalist, most notable for taking the instantly iconic photograph of an impromptu scene in Manhattan (New York City) on Aug. 14, 1945 – but from a different angle and in a less dramatic exposure than that of a photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Published in The New York Times, Jorgensen’s photograph, which was taken while he was on duty, is retained in the National Archives. Johnson himself served for four years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War aboard the USS Gloucester (PF-22)

The Embracing Peace sculpture serves as a remembrance of the sacrifice of the nation and marks the turning point in American history.

Among those watching last Saturday’s unveiling was a W.W. II veteran, Lee Roy “Spud” Harding. Harding is among 57 military heroes honored along with 11 first responders on patriotic banners hanging from street poles along Route 66 in Yukon.



Well-known for celebrating everyday life with vividly realistic sculpture, artist and philanthropist Johnson stepped back in time with Embracing Peace to pay homage to the veterans of World War II.

“This artwork honors the memory of the past, reminding us of the sacrifice of a nation, and awakens a younger generation to a turning point in our nation’s history,” according to the Yukon 66 Main Street website.

The goal of Yukon 66 Main Street’s Arts on Main initiative is to edify the arts presence in downtown Yukon.

Monthly exhibit sponsors are needed to cover the costs of providing this public art exhibit and fund future Yukon 66 Main Street art projects.

For more information, visit Yukon66mainstreet.com or call the Yukon Main Street office at (405) 350-5999.