150 S. 3rd St., Clarksville, TN 37040
Lenora “Nora” Witzel was an infamous figure in Clarksville. She has been described as a pioneer, a rebel, scandalous and a gem. According to Jackie Littleton, “To most Clarksvillians, if they thought of her at all, Miss Nora was an eccentric, an oddly dressed, ‘mannish’ woman doing a man’s business.”
Regardless of how many different people saw her, what is certain is that for almost 30 years Witzel photographed the people and architecture of Clarksville. She worked out of her own photography studio located at the ML Clothing Store at 123 ½ Franklin Street in Clarksville.
Andrea Lugar of Lugar Art and Bronze Foundry in Arlington, Texas created the life-sized bronze cast of Witzel and her dog Nettie, which was unveiled in April 2007.
The piece reflects everything Witzel was known for. Her expression in the piece is ambiguous, neither a frown nor a smile. Also, her hair is pulled back the way she wore it in life to keep it out of the way of her work. Witzel was known for being practical instead of flashy. Littleton said, “She felt no need to move with the whims of changing fashion.”
This attitude is also depicted in the statue by the clothes Witzel is wearing. Witzel’s trademark uniform was a navy blue serge suit with high-laced boots. This “mannish” outfit gave her the freedom to move and climb to take her pictures.
Lugar included great detail including the laces in the boots, buttons on the jacket and the intricately decorated brooch pinned on Witzel’s collar. The same level of detail can be observed on Nettie as well. Lugar added texture to Nettie’s fur, almost individualizing each hair. It is also evident in the dog’s expression as it patiently sits waiting for its master to take a picture.
by Sherry Bland & Marlon Scott