Globe Refiners installation
On September 28-29, 2020 the Globe Refiners installation took place in McPherson, Kansas. My installation team consisted of Johnson Granite Supply, West Point Monument, myself and Jessica. We coordinated closely with Hutton Construction and CHS Refinery from Kansas.
In the beginning
The project got it’s start in July 2019 when Jessica and I met with McPherson Mayor Tom Brown and the Mingenback Foundation. We met at the McPherson Museum and afterwords got a tour of the newly renovated community building where the Globe Refiners played from 1933-1936. The foundation and Mayor Brown communicated that they wanted a sculpture to honor the whole team.
After a couple of weeks of sketching out ideas I submitted my design. In September 2019 I got the green light, signed a contract and began work. I then gathered up my team which consisted of nine businesses from six states. And these businesses were all with companies I had done work with previously.
The finished artwork
After 13 months of hard work and close attention to details (and plenty of measuring) the project was finished. The monument consists of a curved bronze relief mounted to it’s core stainless steel structure. This stainless cage holds 8000 lbs. of laser etched black granite walls and 8000 lbs of pre-cast concrete for the roof. Three benches of black granite and pre-cast concrete house three different ceramic tiles representing the Olympic Gold medal, the Globe Refiners logo and the Berg ball used in the Olympic finals. To mimic the hardwood floors on a basketball court we used linear pavers. Up-lighting provided the final touch for viewing at dusk.
Thank you to all involved in helping to honor the McPherson Globe Refiners basketball team and for the smooth Globe Refiners installation. Without all of those passionately involved there is no way this project could have happened. It was a labor of love for me and my team as it was for the Mingenback Foundation and the mayor of McPherson who spearheaded the project!
The Globe Refiners story will continue on for future generations to come. And now “The Tallest Team in the World” and the first basketball team to win Olympic gold has a permanent bronze sculpture to tell their story.
Photos below highlight the installation process
Nurturing Our Future, philanthropy
Dan Glanz and I installed our sculpture that honors Colorado Springs philanthropist Julie Penrose at the Penrose House on July 14, 2020. The project started on August 20, 2019 after we submitted and presented our clay maquette that we titled “Nurturing Our Future”. The title is a fitting tribute to Julie’s life as she helped shape Colorado Springs into what it is today. Her many philanthropic endeavors towards education, healthcare and the arts was great and she also helped in building the Penrose hospital, the Broadmoor hotel, the Broadmoor Art Academy and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.
The life size bronze sculpture shows Julie seated comfortably on a bench overlooking the gardens in the plaza where she used to live which later became a retreat center for catholic sisters for 50 years before being handed back to the El Pomar Foundation. At her left side are the architecture drawings for the Broadmoor hotel which is located nearby. In her left hand she clutches a cross necklace which represents her devotion to the Catholic Church and also reflects her promise to God that she would build a Chapel in His honor in return for protecting her family in Belgium during WWI. Pauline’s Chapel was completed in 1919.
One of the more common subjects in sculpture that I’ve seen from figure sculptors of today and of the past is of Abraham Lincoln. It’s no surprise as he represents so much that is good even by todays standards. From his poor upbringing he learned humility, defending the defenseless and the value of hard work. As he grew older these qualities defined him and helped lead him to becoming the 16th President of the United States. They guided him as the nations leader through the civil war. They also guided him as he helped free the slaves of the South first with his Emancipation Proclamation and finally the 13th amendment.
In addition, and just as important, he was thoughtful. A great example was how he responded to an 11 year old girl’s letter, written to him just before he was elected President. In it, the girl said that he looked too thin in the face to be voted President. And anyways all the ladies preferred bearded men and that he needed to grow his beard to help him get elected. Some of her brothers, she said in that letter, would vote for him if he did so.
To grow a beard or not to grow a beard, that is the question
It’s hard to imagine any Presidential candidate actually reading a letter such as this let alone listening to it’s message. But that is what Lincoln did. He not only grew his beard out just before being elected President (of which he kept for the entirety of his Presidency until his death 4 years later). He also wrote her a thoughtful letter back. Although he didn’t promise to grow it out he did address it. “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a silly affectation if I were to begin it now?”
History now remembers Abe Lincoln as our first bearded President and it was one little girl’s idea. How humble of a man and how generous he must have been. It is these qualities that I think all men aspire. To have wisdom and respect yet gentle and thoughtful.
The bust I created of Lincoln doesn’t show him with his beard, but rather just before he was elected. At the time that he would have read the letter from the little girl. Abe Lincoln, beardless. To me, that was the moment that best captures one of the most influential men in our nations history.
It’s busy-ness as UNusual (for me)
Just a week or two before the Corona Virus took over our lives, demanding Coloradoans to stay at home, my sculpture business was it’s busiest it had ever been in the past twenty years.
To give you an idea of what was going on in my studio in early March 2020; I had finished prepping waxes for 29 sculptures to be cast in bronze for various projects (one of which was honoring Colorado Springs philanthropist Julie Penrose) and I had just finished sculpting my monument honoring the McPherson Globe Refiners, which had taken me about 6 months to sculpt. I had finished two of my larger scale garden elves for a couple of very good clients and was metal chasing trophies for the Western States Endurance Run in California. There had been a couple of potential projects in the pipes, one of which I thought would start in the coming days of finishing the Refiners project and, then finally, I had a life size clay sculpture to finish and cast in bronze for a Recreation Center in Fraser, Colorado.
It was a busy time and it was only a few weeks ago. All of the sculptures had significant deadlines so I was working long hours and 6-7 days per week, multi-tasking on the various stages. I was EXHAUSTED but I was moving forward and chipping away.
Light (and uncertainty) at the end of the tunnel
While I was working on these various projects, I got an email from a wonderful lady named Sally, the daughter of Joe Fortenberry. Sally lives 10 miles from my studio and contacted me to ask if she could see the sculpture of her dad and his teammates. I had just finished sculpting her dad so the timing couldn’t have been better. My jaw dropped to the floor, in all honesty! I remember standing in my studio smiling and marveling at how the universe works and how connected we all are. Naturally, I invited her to the studio.
Sally’s dad Joe Fortenberry was the top scorer in the Gold medal Olympic basketball game of 1936, the first year basketball became an Olympic sport. The US basketball team dominated in Hitler’s Olympics and during the final Gold medal game on August 14, 1936 Fortenberry scored the same amount of points as their rivals from Canada.
Her dad inspired the term “Dunk” to refer to the method in which a player scores a basket (written by Arthur Daley about Fortenberry in the NY Times in March, 1936) and he was the prime example of why the defensive goaltending rule was adopted and the “jump ball after every basket” rule was rescinded. Sally’s dad was probably one of basketball’s biggest game changers throughout its long history.
On March 4, Jessica and I had the honor of welcoming Sally and her family to my studio to show the sculpture in clay before it went off to the mold maker to start its transformation into bronze.
The days following their visit saw a dramatic slowdown; projects were delivered to the foundry (and off my plate), the corona virus was changing our lives and projects fell through or were put on hold because of it. Basically, my life changed instantaneously to a snails pace. In a matter of days I was staring out my living room window (like the entire world) and wondering what was about to happen with our economy and with our lives. Now, under a stay at home order for at least a few more weeks, it is evident that this will be a long, hard fought battle. But I am and always will be grateful for the month of March 2020.
“The Tallest Team in the World is the BEST team in the World”- Walter Judge for the Denver Post, March 22, 1936
When I was a kid playing basketball in the 80’s and 90’s it seemed like anything before Dr. J or Magic Johnson was the dark ages. There wasn’t much being taught on the history of the sport, at least none that I was aware of. Maybe part of it was, as a kid, you look up to living legends and much of what was/is written is current and for a reason.
But as I work on a large sculptural project honoring the Globe Refiners, I’m amazed at how their story has been forgotten for the last 80 plus years. In all my growing up years I never learned where the word Dunk came from and how the game evolved. Or why goaltending was created in the rule book? Much of it started with the Globe Refiners. Their story is unique and certainly worthy of a large monument.
The McPherson Globe Refiners were being called the tallest team in the world and the best team in the world 5 months before they even won the first ever Olympic Gold in basketball in 1936! Only 12 days before this was the invention of the word “DUNK”, (it was first published in the New York Times on March 10, 1936 describing this team from Kansas)! They WERE giants back then and I wonder how basketball would have evolved without them. Maybe DUNK would be called something else like dipped or sunk or shimmied…Michael Jordan shimmied his way to the hoop and powerblasted it into the hoop, HA!! That doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?!
The McPherson Globe Refiners history is unique and not very well known. I designed this monument to tell their story.
In 1936, Jesse Owens dominated the track and field competition in the Berlin Olympics. Most of us know that story. However, what is not so well known is the team from central Kansas that won the first ever gold medal in basketball, the same year and location that Owens shined. It’s a part of our American history and this monument will shed light on their forgotten story.
At 11 feet wide and 8 feet tall the sculpture is a portrait of the Globe Refiners who were active from 1933-36. The finished monument will contain the curved bronze relief as well as 8 foot tall granite walls that tell a brief history of the team and their Olympic gold medal win in Hitler’s Olympics. The bronze mid-relief is curved to add interest and uniqueness to the work of art.
The sculpture will be permanently installed in September 2020 just outside of the community building where the team used to practice. Here is a link to read more about the Globe Refiners: McPherson Globe Refiners basketball