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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Special Forces Monument

In my home town of Woodland Park, we have a lot of soldiers. The Army’s Ft. Carson is 40 minutes down the pass and we hear often about another soldier from the base who’s not coming home from war.

“Fergy” was a Master Sergeant with the 10th Special Forces Group, a Green Beret. A friend introduced me to his wife and we began to talk about creating a place where Fergy would be remembered. I was invited to attend a ceremony at the 10th Group where they honored the fallen. Names were read and families recognized. At the center of the ceremony they had erected a battle cross; boots, rifle, beret, and dog tags standing straight and silent in their tribute.

We talked about this image and she told me this was how she wanted to honor her husband.

Creating a military memorial is a huge honor and a huge responsibility. I learned 20 years earlier, with my first military sculpture, that the work and detail must be correct. But, more important than just creating an accurate sculpture, I have to tell the story well. I have to take cold, impersonal bronze and mold something that connects with the heart; deeper than mere accuracy in the detail.

So, I sculpted the battle cross as correctly as I could and placed it In the park, in the middle of town on top of a large piece of Pikes Peak granite.

But, his story is presented in the personal. He was serving in the desert when he died, so I created a helmet with desert goggles. I made molds and cast replicas of his dog tags.The 10th Special Forces Group guidon is sculpted so it drapes over the granite base. Military coins were added as if they’d been left there by friends. Fergy’s Master Sergeant stripes, his name patch and his service ribbons were modeled onto the banner.

The sobering truth is that this monument to Fergy will outlive us all. I have to tell his story well to assure that the future will know him. His grandchildren will someday stand here. If my effort was successful, they will see, and feel, and know his story.

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Dad’s flower boxes

I think I’ll plant flowers this year. It’s an unusually warm time right now up here in the mountains. Even though my studio sits next to a stream that runs year ’round with snow melt from Pikes Peak, I can sit in the sun today in a tee shirt … and it feels good.

I haven’t had flowers on the deck across the stream for two years. My dad’s flower boxes still sit in an awkward stack in the corner of the deck where he left them. I’ve looked at them since he’s been gone and there was always some kind of odd comfort in that lonely picture, reminding me how big the hole is that he left in my heart … and that sadness feels wonderfully awful.

Today would be the kind of day he would have loved; outside preparing the soil in his boxes for the bouquet he would select every year. I remember how he’d tell me about his selection and how these would be the finest flower boxes ever…

Why didn’t I take more pictures? I should have interviewed him and produced a beautiful tribute documentary with nostalgic soundtracks, the wash of the stream and his unforgettable voice and that smile. I was busy…I guess. There would always be time…

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Military Memorials

Gold Star Moms

I received a couple of emails this morning from two Gold Star Mothers. They both watched their sons leave for the war in the desert; both bold and ready and strong. And then … an awful day … he’s not coming home. His presence now is in proud pictures, precious memories, and a folded flag.

They asked about a sculpture to help honor their sons. How am I qualified to step into that place… with them? I’m not. But I will do my best.

Military images should be easy; soldiers, guns, drama. The easy stuff can be found on the walls of tattoo parlors; crazed warriors, muscles bulging, guns blazing, piles of skulls, smoke and fire…

But how do you sculpt honor and dignity and sacrifice? I’m trying to learn. I know that when a mom holds one of my sculptures in her hands and it is supposed to tell her story and her son’s story, I feel the weight of that moment. So, when I’m alone in my studio, shaping the clay in front of me, all those families and fallen soldiers are looking over my shoulder … whispering … so I get the story right.

 

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My new Blog

Through my career, so many have been fascinated by the process of creating sculpture. A visit to my studio always seemed to be fun for them. So, a portion of what I will be offering here is simply regular visits to my studio, my projects, and my process.

If you’d like to see what I’m up to, sign up for the email updates on this page and you’ll hear from me when I think there’s something going on that you might enjoy.

My posts will be lots of pictures with brief comments. But, there will also be occasional observations about some things that are important to me.

So, this is my conversation. I hope you’ll join in….. here we go!

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Sculpture in Community

 

“The Storyteller”

The Storyteller, by Taylor Sprague

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in In the Studio

 

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Listen to your heart

Sitting at my computer this morning rather than driving to my studio where the room is cluttered and the list is long. Remembering when I worked at a job that was sucking the life out of me while my soul dreamed of a day like today. In those times, when I thought my creativity was stifled because I was working at what I didn’t love, I dreamed of a day like today; work waiting on my bench and clients waiting for the result. However, I can say, looking back on those days, my creative energy was on fire. I dreamed ideas…new ways to say things…storied shapes speaking clearly…imagining my vision becoming reality and someone actually would care.

It all felt so alive and vibrant. And now I have work that isn’t drudgery. And I have the opportunity I hoped for. But I have to say that I miss those days when it felt like every nerve was on alert and my creative fire burned white hot.

So, if you find yourself conflicted between what you do to feed your family and what your heart longs for, embrace that conflict and the passion it reveals because in it you have been given the gift of seeing and knowing what is in your heart…. while many never know.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in The Creative Life

 

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