Earlier this year I began sculpting a life size K9 sculpture for a veterans memorial in Ohio. The sculpture is a tribute to military working dogs and was inspired by my dad’s dog Sarge.
Sarge, a beautiful German Sheppard, was adopted as a puppy and trained to be my dad’s service dog. Since my dad suffered from mild PTSD from his service in Vietnam, Sarge would help him cope with his condition. He was my dad’s best friend and was with him till the very end on their last walk together on April 30, 2015.
With Sarge living in Southern California having him sit for me at my studio in northern Colorado wasn’t feasible. So, I went in search of finding a local German Sheppard, similar in build, that I could use for reference for the life size sculpture. I called a couple of dog training businesses and one of them, K9 Wisdom Training in Loveland, responded that they had a beautiful, young Sheppard. I met with the trainer to snap pictures and take measurements of the German Sheppard posing as a military service dog.
The military dog statue was then created in my studio in Loveland, Colorado. After one month of sculpting and three months at the foundry Liberty was finished.
Liberty is a tribute to military working dogs
Representing all military dogs, the monument honors the sacrifices all war dogs make that give us the freedoms we enjoy. Liberty was also created in memory of my dad. The project got its start on the five year anniversary of his death.
The bronze sculpture now stands guard at the fallen soldier memorial in the center of Bloomville Veterans Memorial in Bloomville, Ohio. She was installed September 2, 2020 completing a five year construction project that began in 2015.
Recently I came back from beautiful Wisconsin where I delivered three of my life size bronze sculptures to clients who are building a large veterans memorial along the Eau Claire river. I have been working with the foundation since late 2019 to create sculptures for the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial. This past week I finally got to see the site where it will all come together.
The Chippewa Valley Veterans Tribute is being created in Altoona, WI in several phases. Phase I will be dedicated Memorial Day 2021. The goal of the park is to honor those who have served in the United States military.
I met with the foundation members over dinner on Wednesday and got a tour of the site the following day. Later we temporarily installed the sculptures at a nearby veterans organizations. The sculptures are two Honor Guard sculptures, also known as Sentinels, and a Gold Star Mother with poppies. A “Red Arrow” Infantry Division soldier is depicted in the WWII Sentinel. The other Sentinel is a US Marine.
The three sculptures will be the first group of monuments permanently installed next spring 2021. Details in the coming months.
For more information and to follow the progress of the site, please click here
Honor Guard, presenting arms
Present Arms, Honor Guard was first created to guard the entrance to a veterans park in Nebraska. American Veterans Park is a tribute to all United States Veterans and recognizes their service and sacrifice. As a real Honor Guard guards National Monuments and provides military funeral honors, this life size bronze sculpture guards the entrance to a veterans park in a small town.
In the beginning…
In 2017 I was asked to provide concept sketches of a US Army and Marine Honor Guard presenting arms. Presenting Arms is a common command in all branches of the military all over the world. It is used to show respect and honor when presenting weapons.
The initial sketch, although rough, represents an Honor Guard from the modern day War on Terror. The sketch was enough to get a green light to create the first life size, limited edition version. Since my clients were familiar with my work it wasn’t necessary to create a small maquette or more detailed 2D renderings. Generally, these are necessary before beginning a large sculpture in order to illustrate how the finished artwork would look.
Full size clay model
Before I began the full size clay original I studied the “inspiration photo” for posture and general anatomy as well as how the uniform fit the soldier. The photo was heavily referenced throughout the claying up process for accuracy. Since there are always questions that arise during the process having this handy was essential.
I received a uniform jacket, trousers, gloves, shoes, cap as well as a replica firearm as reference to sculpt from from the same committee member. A model was hired to pose in the uniform and photos were taken in-the-round before I began work. After five weeks and around 200 hours of careful clay modeling the 5’ 10” tall sculpture was completed.
There are some artists who have told me that this sculpture is too technical. Or that it doesn’t leave enough room for interpretation. For me, I get satisfaction when there is less margin for error and perhaps even less room for expression in a sculpture. In my mind, if you can pull off a very strict pose and give the sculpture energy, life and maybe even make it identifiable to your past works then you have success.
For a more detailed description of the process from finished clay to bronze casting please visit my YouTube video. This video highlights the bronze casting process using another sculpture.
Below are photos of the sculpture in various stages of completion.
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.