on Brodie’s influence
Before I became a sculptor I was heavily influenced by combat artist Howard Brodie. His illustrations became a building block of my work creating military themed sculptures.
Brodie was a former instructor at the Academy of Art College. He was friends with the schools founder Richard Stephens and taught there during the 1970s inspiring many of the teachers that I had the honor of learning from.
In his book “Drawing Fire: a Combat Artist at War” his illustrations are filled with loose yet accurate depictions of WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. What impresses me the most is they weren’t sketched in the comfort of his studio. As a combat artist Brodie didn’t carry a weapon to war. His pencil strokes created during combat are expressive, yet seemingly accurate. They are real life superheroes in action poses and close up portraits. Grotesque and beautiful all rolled up into one.
“His drawings, like all great art, direct a penetrating light onto human activity-in this case of that most ridiculous, tragic and heroic of all human conflicts-war.”– Walter Cronkite
Using art to honor
In 2005, my dad asked me to create concepts for military themed sculptures to show his Vietnam vet friends in Southern California. As president of the Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County we had hoped it would lead to a sculpture or project. Or perhaps a new direction for me since I was, at the time, a struggling artist. I referred back to the drawings of Howard Brodie to find inspiration. I created about six concepts that illustrated various scenes during the Vietnam war. One of which I recently reinterpreted for a potential project in Nebraska. Although those sketches didn’t lead to any projects with my dad, it eventually opened up the doors for many other military themed sculptures.
Later that year I created a bronze sculpture honoring the Tuskegee Airman. The monument, now in Iowa Falls, Iowa was the first of many military sculptures I’d make in the coming years. Like the drawings I did inspired by Brodie, the Tuskegee Airman became a stepping stone for future monuments in bronze.
The next sculpture I made was of a kneeling soldier during the War on Terror. The kneeling US Marine has his hand against a wall, clutching his helmet and remembering a fallen brother. My dad beamed with pride with this monument. Enough so that he came to visit me in Colorado to see it in clay. Sadly, it would be the last time I would see my dad. But before he passed he would always tell me how much this sculpture meant to him.
Remembering Heroes (Vietnam era grieving soldier)
Six years following my dads sudden passing I created a slightly different sculpture from the original Remembering sculpture. Titled “Remembering Heroes”, this sculpture is based on the first design from the War on Terror. However, it is of a kneeling US Marine during the Vietnam war. Same pose as the original sculpture, but with Vietnam war era combat uniform, an M16 rifle and a pack of cigarettes in his helmet.
While making this sculpture earlier this year, I couldn’t help but think of my dad. I also thought of how much of my work is influenced by combat artist Howard Brodie.
The grieving soldier is each of us as we remember who our heroes are.