A campaign to raise $200,000 to build a statue in the likeness of Adam West, a hometown hero of Walla Walla best known for his formative role on the 1960s television series “Batman,” has stalled, but organizers haven’t lost hope.
Launched in September, the fundraiser was initially making significant progress toward its initial goal of $50,000, raising $2,500 in a single day, according to a spokesperson for GoFundMe.
But after an initial surge of donations, new funds have slowed to a trickle. Three months later, the campaign has raised a little under $7,500.
Despite the recent slowdown in donations, Jonathan Grant, an organizer for the campaign and a longtime promoter of the Walla Walla icon, said in an interview that the campaign will continue as long as it needs to.
“Every day, every minute, every hour, we’re going to continue this goal until it gets done,” Grant said. “It’s going to be a task, it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m not going to give up.”
If funded, the statue would be built at Menlo Park just off Alvarado Terrace near downtown Walla Walla. Grant and other campaigners have already secured permission from the city of Walla Walla and from the Walla Walla Foundry to place the statue at that location as soon as September 2022, so long as the funds are raised.
Proposed statue design by Ruben Procopio of Adam West. The pose was requested by his family to demonstrate his 50-year career in film.
Born Sept. 18, 1928, as William West Anderson, the legendary actor was famous for his role in “Batman.” West’s portrayal of the Dark Knight was characterized by a campy humor and unambiguous virtue that wasn’t muddied by the moral complexity of later caped crusaders, earning him the nickname the “bright knight.”
After decades of being typecast after his role on the hit TV show, West was able to find success in a number of other roles and was also well known out of character to the people of Walla Walla.
So when Grant partnered with local Adam Lore to push for a statue of West to be created in Walla Walla after the actor’s death in 2017, West’s family requested that the homage depict West the man, not the Batman.
“Adam was a lot more than Batman in his 50-plus years of the big screen and radio and theater,” Grant said.
After making known their plans to build a statue, Grant and Lore were contacted by storied animator, comic book artist and sculptor Ruben Procopio, a friend of West’s who had previously built a miniature 3-D model often used as a draft of a sculpture of the actor.
“There were quite a few artists that reached out to us, but we wanted someone that had a personal connection with Adam,” Grant said. “And Adam once called (Procopio) his personal sculptor.”
The organizers were ready to launch the campaign as soon as early 2020, Grant said, but were stalled by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We put it on hold for awhile,” he said. “It didn’t seem like the time to reach out asking for money and ask for funds while people are losing work and businesses are shutting down.”
But during the 2021 Adam West Day, Walla Walla’s annual celebration of the actor, plans for the statue were finally unveiled. Initially, funds poured in. Though raising the necessary amount to erect a statue of West has slowed, Grant and other organizers remain determined to celebrate the “bright knight.”
“Long before wine and all this tourism we have now, he was one of the people who really put Walla Walla on the map,” Grant said. “He was always so proud of Walla Walla, and it is very important that we acknowledge him and what he stood for.”