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Statues

 

Edward L. Gaylord statue & Harold T. Holden biography

Charlton Heston statue & Blair Buswell biography

Ronald Reagan statue & Glenna Goodacre biography

John Wayne statue & Edward J. Fraughton biography

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Statues in the Museum

Throughout the interior of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum guests will find exemplary art and sculpture as part of the permanent collections and visiting exhibitions. In addition to these works of art, the Museum has been honored with the gifts or purchases of portrait sculptures honoring individuals such as Edward L. Gaylord, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, and John Wayne. Exceptional sculptors of these remarkable individuals include Harold T. Holden, Blair Buswell, Glenna Goodacre, and Edward J. Fraughton. On this page you'll see images of the statues, a little history of the making of the sculpture, brief biographies of the honored person, and information about the statue's artist.

Edward L. Gaylord statue & Harold T. Holden Biography  

E. K. Gaylord

Edward L. Gaylord
Board Member, 1965-2003
Bronze, 2006
Gift of Edward C. Joullian, III
Harold T. Holden, artist

In a society where youth struggle with identity and self-esteem, the values of honesty, integrity and self-sufficiency associated with the spirit of the American West should be cherished and nurtured.
- Edward L. Gaylord

Edward L. Gaylord (1919–2003) was a businessman who built the Gaylord Entertainment Company empire that included The Oklahoman newspaper, Oklahoma Publishing Co., Gaylord Hotels, the Nashville Network TV Channel, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Television Channel.

Gaylord graduated from Stanford University with a degree in business and continued his studies at Harvard Business School, but World War II interrupted his education. In addition to inheriting the major Oklahoma City metro newspaper, Daily Oklahoman, he increased the family fortune to $2 billion by the time he died in 2003. He also purchased the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, when it was in dire financial straits and kept it operating. He created The Nashville Network TV Channel, as well as Country Music Television, and owned Hee Haw, a long running country and western variety show.

The Daily Oklahoman, renamed The Oklahoman, still remains in the family. The Gaylord family of Oklahoma City were actively involved in the earliest days of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and of which one of the exhibition wings is named in his honor.

 

Harold T. Holden

Harold T. Holden, or "H" as he is called by many, was born in Enid, Oklahoma, on March 28, 1940, and now resides near Kremlin, Oklahoma. Known primarily as a "cowboy artist," he has been capturing the West in paintings and sculptures for more than 30 years. Although Holden was the first professional fine artist in the family, he comes from a family of creative and talented inventors and engineers. Holden credits his love of horses to his father who was an avid horseman and credits his grandfather George E. Failing for encouraging Holden’s fine art career.

Edna Mae and Harold T. Holden After graduating from Enid High School in 1958, Holden enrolled at Oklahoma State University. After a short stay, he went to Houston, Texas, to work on an oil rig. A chance meeting with an uncle’s neighbor in Houston led him to the Texas Academy of Art and then he ventured into the commercial art field. He undertook the Art Directorship at Horseman magazine in Houston and began painting and sculpting in the evenings after work to polish his craft. In the late 1960s, he made a commitment to a fine art career.

He has completed many life-size or larger monuments: Boomer, Holding the Claim, Keeper Of The Plains, and The Homesteader, all in Enid, Oklahoma; The Rancher, in Lubbock, Texas; and Crossing the Red, in Altus, Oklahoma. His sixth public work of art, unveiled in Altus and Enid in May 1996, was a one and one-fourth life-size Indian figure titled Vision Seeker. In 2000, he unveiled Corporal Noah Van Buren Ness in Ness City, Kansas, the first Civil War sculpture to be unveiled in Kansas in more than 60 years. His Headin’ to Market was unveiled at the Oklahoma City Stockyards, World Champion in Oklahoma City, Bison Spirit at Oklahoma Baptist University, and The Ranger at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. In all, he has completed 20 public works of art in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas.

He unveiled his most ambitious painting, a 4’ x 8’ landscape of western Oklahoma, at the Oklahoma State Capitol. He received a commission from the U.S. Postal Service for art work for the 1993 Cherokee Strip Commemorative Postage Stamp. He has also sculpted the seven-foot likeness of National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s benefactor Edward L. Gaylord that greets visitors to the Museum. This was dedicated to the Museum in June 2006.

Harold Holden by Carrie Ballantyne Holden’s work has graced numerous publications. His work is included in various collections throughout the country, including the Oklahoma Arts Council collection. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Sculpture Society as well as the Oklahoma Governor’s Art Award. Holden has been a Prix de West artist for over 15 years.

Back then, I didn’t know anybody making a living in fine arts. I’d work all day, come home and paint until midnight. You’ve got to have passion for whatever you’re doing in life and a desire to work hard at it. - Harold T. Holden, from "Holden: At Home in Kremlin Studio," The Oklahoman, July 8, 2001.

You have to have hands-on experience to have the knowledge to make your work authentic. One of the comments I hear often is that my horses are well-made, that I know what a horse looks like. If you don't have that knowledge, you lose your credibility fast. – Harold T. Holden, from Vicki Stavig’s article "A Man of Few Words, Great Talent," Art of the West, May/June 1996.

Above: Edna Mae and Harold Holden
Left: Portrait of Harold T. Holden by Carrie Ballantyne.

Charlton Heston statue & Blair Buswell Biography  

Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston as Will Penny
Bronze, 2002
Gift from members of the National Rifle Association
Blair Buswell, artist
Accession # 2002.248

Will Penny is a 1968 western film directed by Tom Gries starring Charlton Heston as the character Will Penny. The film was based upon an episode of the 1960 Sam Peckinpah television series The Westerner called "Line Camp," which was also written and directed by Tom Gries. Heston had mentioned that this was his favorite film in which he appeared. Will Penny is an aging cowpoke who takes a job on a ranch that requires him to ride the line of the property looking for trespassers or, worse, squatters. He finds that his cabin in the high mountains has been appropriated by a woman whose guide to Oregon has deserted her and her son. Too ashamed to kick a mother and her child out just as the bitter winter of the mountains set in, he agrees to share the cabin until the spring thaw. But it isn't just the snow that slowly thaws; The lonely man and woman soon forget their mutual hostility and start developing a deep love for one another.

Charlton Heston was born John Charles Carter in Wilmette, Illinois, in 1923. When Heston was an infant his father's work moved the family to St. Helen, Michigan. It was a rural, heavily forested part of the state, and Heston lived an isolated yet idyllic existence spending much time hunting and fishing in the backwoods of the area. When Heston was 10 years old, his parents divorced. Shortly thereafter, his mother married Chester Heston. The new family moved back to Wilmette. Throughout Heston's life he was known by friends as "Chuck" although his wife always called him "Charlie." His stage name Charlton Heston is drawn from his mother's maiden surname (Charlton) and his stepfather's surname (Heston), and was used for his first film, Peer Gynt.

Heston studied acting at Northwest University, where he met his wife, Lydia. After serving three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Heston and his wife moved to the New York theatre district. Heston’s deep voice, chiseled features and demanding presence soon landed him larger-than-life roles in many Western films.

One of Heston's first Westerns was Pony Express in 1953, in which he played the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody. He portrayed another frontier icon a few years later in The Far Horizons as William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Other famous Heston Westerns include the 1958 film The Big Country opposite Gregory Peck, The Mountain Men in 1980 and Tombstone in 1993. The 1968 Western Will Penny was a film Heston often referred to as his favorite piece of work on screen. Heston is known for having played heroic roles, such as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Colonel George Taylor in Planet of the Apes, El Cid in El Cid, and Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Heston also was a tireless activist and supporter of the arts. He was the first chairman and president of the American Film Institute and was elected six times as president of the Screen Actors Guild. In the early 1960s he campaigned for racial equality throughout the Southwest and participated in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. Heston lent his talent and energy to a number of federal agencies and institutions, such as the Department of Energy and Agriculture, the Red Cross, and NATO. He was named co-chairman of President Reagan's Task Force on the Arts and Humanities and served as president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003.

His contribution as an actor and humanitarian resulted in an abundance of prestigious awards. Heston was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997 for his lifetime achievement in the performing arts. In 2003, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for his accomplishments in movies and politics. A few of his many acting awards include two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe awards and a bronze Wrangler for Best Theatrical Motion Picture for his role in Will Penny.

 

Blair Buswell

Blair Buswell Blair Buswell has always been fascinated with the traditional human figure. He likes the challenge of capturing the gesture, mood, and expression of a person in thought, as well as the intensity of a skilled athlete in action. He enjoys sculpting a wide variety of subject matter, in a range of sizes, whether sports oriented, western, children, portraiture, or just everyday people.

Buswell was born December 6, 1956, in Ogden, Utah. He remembers when his mother gave him a little tin filled with red, blue, green, and yellow clay toothpicks for modeling to keep him quiet in church. Blair made many of his own toys in clay and didn't realize until he was in the seventh grade that people actually made a living making things out of clay. Then and there, he decided he wanted to become a professional artist.

Blair Buswell's formal art training began at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, where he was recognized as the top art student. He studied illustration and design at Utah State University, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education from Brigham Young University in Utah, where he was named the outstanding sculpture student. He earned a degree in art education and sculpture from Brigham Young, and he later taught sculpture there for four years. He is now on the staff of two fine art schools: Scottsdale Artist School, Arizona and Loveland Fine Art Academy, Colorado.

A sculptor of portraits of sports figures in addition to being an illustrator, Blair Buswell has had a career that bridged his involvement with both sports and fine art. Buswell's unique combination of artist and athlete has opened many doors for his career. His knowledge of sports came from first-hand experience as a college athlete. In 1982, while Buswell was a senior in college, he was hired by Bill Walsh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers that had just won the Super Bowl, to do a sculpture of Walsh and Ed DeBartlo, the owner of the 49ers. That was the defining moment in his career of making portrait busts. He is now very honored to be able to work personally with some of the greatest athletes of our day. Since 1983, Buswell has complete more than 50 busts of the new inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He unveiled a nine-foot action figure of football legend Doak Walker in front of the new football stadium at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Other monuments include Mickey Mantle for the Oklahoma Redhawks in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Jack Nicklaus for the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in Augusta, Georgia; and Oscar Robertson for the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

Many of his works have been shown at the National Academy of Western Art and the Prix de West shows at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. In 1990, he was the first sculptor to ever receive the Sport Artist of the Year honor from the United States Sports Academy. He is a Fellow in the National Sculpture Society and recipient of the 1991 "Gloria Medal." He is a member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group, which awarded him the Artists' Choice Award in both 1995 and 1996. Subsequent years have seen him continually similarly honored. His works and commissions are a part of permanent/public collections nationwide. His studio has been in Highland, Utah.

Although his notoriety has come mainly from his sports action and portrait pieces, his versatility has been far reaching. Over the years, he has completed numerous commissions, limited editions, medallions, and other figurative works. His pieces are displayed and appreciated in museums, private collections, college campuses, sports complexes, and fine art galleries from New York to California and from Seattle to Mobile. In 1992, he completed his first monument, a full-figure statue of W.A. Criswell, pastor for 47 years of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Buswell's traditional training has served him well and he continues to push himself to learn new skills and techniques. The largest and most challenging project of his career is the collaborative effort with fellow sculptors Kent Ullberg and Edward J. Fraughton. The three sculptors were commissioned to produce larger-than-life works for downtown Omaha, Nebraska, for "Nebraska Wilderness" and "Pioneer Courage." Fraughton and Buswell have created the wagon train that is one city block long. Buswell accepted this new and daunting task as yet another opportunity to broaden his skills. Along with his figurative works, he is sculpting mules, oxen, horses, and other animals.

"It is a dream come true to have a piece in the permanent collection of one of the finest western art museums in the country. I feel that the prix de West Invitational is the 'All-star game for artists' and consider it an honor to be included." - Blair Buswell

Ronald Reagan statue & Glenna Goodacre Biography  

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, After the Ride
Bronze, 1998
Gift of Edward L. & Thelma Gaylord
Glenna Goodacre, artist
Accession # 1998.019

Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975).

Born in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in the 1930s. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later in television, appearing in 52 movie productions and gaining enough success to become a household name. Some of his most notable roles are in Knute Rockne, All American, and Kings Row. Reagan called Kings Row the film that "made me a star". However, he was unable to capitalize on his success because he enlisted in the U.S. Army two months after its release. He never regained star status. After returning from World War II service, Reagan acted in Tennessee's Partner, This Is the Army, The Hasty Heart, Bedtime for Bonzo, Cattle Queen of Montana, Hellcats of the Navy, and The Killers.

Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric, where his career in politics began. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

As president, Reagan implemented new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", were aimed at controlling inflation and spurring economic growth through tax cuts, reduced business regulation, and reduced growth in government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered military actions in Grenada. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming it was "Morning in America". His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Reagan supported anti-Communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries' nuclear arsenals.

Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year. He died ten years later at the age of 93. He has been rated highly by scholars in rankings of U.S. Presidents.

Ronald Reagan inducted into Hall of Great Westerners 1989
Above: Ronald Reagan being inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners, 1989.

Reagan was inducted into the Museum's Hall of Great Westerners in 1989. He attended the Western Heritage Awards that year in order to accept the award in person. He had a great admiration for Western culture and lifestyle, and the award was noticeably a great honor to him. A larger-than-life size, full-figure sculpture of former President Ronald Reagan was unveiled during Western Heritage Award festivities on April 4, 1998, and still stands in Founders' Hall near the American Cowboy Gallery entrance.

 

Glenna Goodacre

Glenna Goodacre knew at a very early age that she wanted to paint people. "I had always drawn and was fascinated with painting people. I didn't have any interest in learning to paint horses or landscapes," she recalls. Goodacre's art appear in public, private, municipal and museum collections throughout the U.S. Her bronze sculptures feature lively expression and texture. Goodacre graduated from Monterey High School in Lubbock. She studied art at Colorado College but was disappointed in the school's abstract approach to art. "I was much more attracted to realistic work," she said. After she married and had two children, she painted portraits in Lubbock, Texas.

Glenna Goodacre But 1967 was a turning point for her. She attended the Art Students League in New York and studied with Bill Draper, a well-known portrait painter. Ironically, she never even ventured to the sculpture department at the League. However, two years later, Forrest Fenn, who owned a gallery and foundry at that time, handed her a lump of wax and suggested she try her hand at sculpting. She did a six-inch figure of her daughter and her sculpture career was launched. Goodacre's ability to capture emotion in sculptural form has been honed over several decades of an award-winning career.

Now, Goodacre is internationally known for her figurative portraits of numerous famous people. Her life-size sculpture of Ronald Reagan graces one of the main hallways at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The sculpture, titled After the Ride, was cast twice, first for the National Cowboy Museum and second for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Her 1993 Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C. has been highly praised. Goodacre was selected in 1997 as sculptor for the monumental Irish Memorial in Philadelphia. Completed and installed at Penn’s Landing in 2003, the massive bronze is her most ambitious public sculpture—with 35 life-size figures. After a nationwide competition for a Sacagawea dollar coin design in 1999, Goodacre’s rendering for the face was unveiled at the White House by First Lady Hillary Clinton.

In 2004, her heroic bronze portrait of legendary West Point Coach Colonel Earl "Red" Blaik was dedicated at the National College Football Hall Of Fame. In 2004, she also designed the Children’s Medal of Honor awarded to First Lady Laura Bush in Dallas by the Greater Texas Community Partners. In 2005 a street in Lubbock was named Glenna Goodacre Boulevard, and in Santa Fe at the State Capitol, Governor Bill Richardson presented Goodacre with the New Mexico Governor’s Award For Excellence in the Arts. In 2006, Richardson appointed her to the State Quarter Design Committee to develop a U.S. quarter coin representing New Mexico.

An academician of the National Academy of Design and a fellow of the National Sculpture Society, Goodacre has won many awards at their exhibitions in New York. Goodacre has received honorary doctorates from Colorado College, her alma mater, and Texas Tech University in her hometown of Lubbock. In 2002, her work won the James Earl Fraser Sculpture Award at the Prix De West Exhibition. In 2003, she was awarded the prestigious Texas Medal Of Arts and later that year was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall Of Fame in Fort Worth. Goodacre was inducted in 1997 into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock.

In March 2007 Glenna suffered a fall and head injury. In August, she returned home from the hospital to resume her normal activities with her family, friends, and two poodles. She makes daily visits to her studio which is by her home. She has simultaneously been an active wife, mother, and grandmother. Glenna is a life-long visitor to New Mexico and a resident since 1983. She and her husband, attorney C.L. "Mike" Schmidt, have homes in Santa Fe and Pecos.

A lifelong passion for portraying the human figure is reflected in the work of accomplished sculptor Goodacre. Convincing expression and engaging composition are hallmarks of her bronzes, ranging in size from small head studies to heroic public monuments.

In 1997, Goodacre was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock. Eleven years later, Goodacre was named the 2008 "Notable New Mexican". This honor, bestowed by the Albuquerque Art and History Museum’s Foundation, celebrates extraordinary, living New Mexicans who contribute significantly to the public good. A portrait of Goodacre by renowned artist, Daniel Greene, is in the permanent collection of the Albuquerque Museum, and is currently on display. In August 2005, the former 8th Street in the vicinity of Texas Tech in Lubbock was renamed Glenna Goodacre Boulevard. She is the mother of the former Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre, the wife of musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr.

"Reagan Cast in Old Role for New Tribute at Library"
By Massie Ritsch, November 18, 1998, Los Angeles Times

Ronald Reagan's days on his beloved Santa Barbara County ranch are being remembered in a larger-than-life bronze sculpture at the Reagan library. The 7-foot-6-inch sculpture, titled "After the Ride," was installed Tuesday in the library's main courtyard and will be officially unveiled Thursday night, following a lecture by Gov. Pete Wilson. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is scheduled to attend.

Sculptor Glenna Goodacre studied photographs, video and clothing from the library's collection to create the standing image of the former president in his early 70s. Meant to portray Reagan striding off after a horseback ride, the sculpture shows him in boots and denim jacket, with cowboy hat in hand and riding gloves in his back pocket.

"I wanted him to exude the confidence and the friendliness and the openness that I think are part of his personality," Goodacre said Tuesday from her studio in Santa Fe, N.M. "When I was going through the thousands of photographs, the ones where he was solemn and serious looked very stilted and posed." When she began transferring Reagan's image to clay, Goodacre said she had her most difficulty making the president's smile look sincere. "I must have done the mouth over a hundred times," she said.

Glenna Goodacre working on her bronze of Ronald Reagan Left: Glenna Goodacre working on her bronze of Ronald Reagan in her New Mexico studio.

Goodacre, who is set to attend Thursday's unveiling, is best known for creating the Vietnam Women's Memorial, which was installed in 1993 on the National Mall in Washington. The sculpture on display at the Reagan library is the second casting of "After the Ride." The first has been on display at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City since April. The sculpture was commissioned and the castings paid for by Ed Gaylord, an Oklahoma media company owner and longtime Reagan supporter.

Lynda Schuler, director of public affairs for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, said the sculpture represents a part of Reagan's life that served as a release from the pressures of politics. The Reagans bought Rancho del Cielo in the 1970s and kept the 680-acre property 29 miles north of Santa Barbara until selling it to a foundation for young conservatives last April. "Anybody who lived through the '80s and the Reagan presidency knows how much he loved the ranch," she said. "He just thought it was the best therapy in the world to be out there and doing physical work and being able to think while he rode and cut the brush."

Schuler said Goodacre's sculpture shows the energy that Reagan drew from his ranch work at the Western White House. "I just think its authenticity is what makes it so remarkable, the effort that she put into researching the work," Schuler said. "She watched video so that she captured his stride, the way that he actually walked. It's that attention to detail that allowed her to capture him so well."

Now 87 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Reagan will not attend Thursday's presentation. But Schuler said the former president visits the Simi Valley-area museum from his Los Angeles home several times a year. "The next time he is up, I'm sure he'll enjoy seeing it very much," she said.

John Wayne statue & Edward J. Fraughton Biography  

John Wayne

John Wayne
Bronze, 2007
Commissioned by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Purchased with Support from Kerr-McGee Corporation
Edward J. Fraughton, artist

I stick to simple themes. Love. Hate. No nuances. I stay away from psychoanalyst's couch scenes. Couches are good for one thing.
- John Wayne

My quest as a sculptor has been to sculpt a three-dimensional design. Sculpture should never be designed from a narrow point of view. The best sculpture makes you move around it. A painter directs your eye from one part of the picture to another, the sculptor surrounds it.
- Edward J. Fraughton.

Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Mitchell when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. Wayne's father, Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884–1937), was the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison (1845–1915). His mother, the former Mary Alberta Brown (1885–1970), was from Lancaster County, Nebraska. Wayne was of Presbyterian Scots-Irish descent through his 2nd great-grandfather Robert Morrison born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, who then emigrated to the United States in 1782. Wayne's family moved in 1911 to Glendale, California, where his father worked as a pharmacist. A local fireman at the station on his route to school in Glendale started calling him "Little Duke," because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier dog, Duke. He preferred "Duke" to "Marion," and the name stuck for the rest of his life.

As a teen, Wayne worked in an ice cream shop for a man who shod horses for Hollywood studios. He played football for the 1924 champion Glendale High School team. Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He instead attended the University of Southern California, majoring in pre-law. Wayne also played on the USC football team under legendary coach Howard Jones. An injury curtailed his athletic career. He lost his athletic scholarship and, without funds, had to leave the university. Wayne began working at the local film studios. Prolific silent western film star Tom Mix had gotten him a summer job in the prop department in exchange for football tickets. Wayne soon moved on to bit parts, establishing a longtime friendship with the director who provided most of those roles, John Ford. Early in this period, Wayne appeared with his USC teammates playing football in Brown of Harvard, The Dropkick, and Salute, and Columbia's Maker of Men.

Wayne's breakthrough role came with director John Ford's classic Stagecoach in 1939. Because of Wayne's non-star status and track record in low-budget westerns throughout the 1930s, Ford had difficulty getting financing for what was to be an A-budget film. After rejection by all the top studios, Ford struck a deal with independent producer Walter Wanger in which Claire Trevor — a much bigger star at the time — received top billing. Stagecoach was a huge critical and financial success, and Wayne became a star. He later appeared in more than twenty of John Ford's films, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Wings of Eagles, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

John Wayne was an icon of the cowboy and symbol of American values. He was active as a leader and supporter of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth, this bronze was a tribute to Wayne as he appeared during the height of his career in the 1960s.

At the Museum's inaugural Western Heritage Awards program in 1961, Wayne received the first Wrangler Award for major motion picture for The Alamo. On June 26, 1965, he led the parade to open the Museum atop Persimmon Hill, and served as a member of the Museum's Board of Trustees from 1968 until his passing in 1979. His oldest son, Michael Wayne, also served as a member of the Board from 1982 to 1986. As a lasting memorial, John Wayne bequeathed his personal collection of artwork, firearms, and movie memorabilia to the Museum in 1971.

"John Wayne Gets Statue at Cowboy Museum: National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma Unveils Larger-Than-Life Statue of John Wayne"
The Associated Press, July, 29, 2007

Two of Wayne's grandchildren, Anita LaCava Swift and Nick Kuhle, attended the unveiling Saturday of the 8-foot, 8-inch statue depicting the actor in cowboy boots, spurs, chaps and a hat, holding a rifle in his left hand and wearing a gun belt and holster.

"It's always an amazing thing for our family whenever we get to be out among his fans because he's almost been dead for 30 years, but there are 3-year-old children who come up to me and tell me how much they love him," Swift said.

"It's just incredible. It was great to have an icon like that as your grandfather," Kuhle said.

"He believed in what this place could be about, and he invested himself in it. ... He was here for our groundbreaking, here for many of our early events, bringing this place out of the ground because he believed in the message we were going to deliver here," said Chuck Schroeder, the museum's executive director.

Sculptor Edward J. Fraughton said he modeled the statue after the middle years of Wayne's career and tried "to portray him in a real epic form rather than as an individual in a particular film."

 

Edward J. Fraughton

Edward J. Fraughton self-portraitEdward J. Fraughton was born March 22, 1939, in Park City, Utah. He is an American artist, sculptor and inventor primarily known for his epic monumental works and individual collector editions that often relate to the history of the American West. A literal sculptor with an academic background in design and human anatomy, Fraughton's versatility covers a broad spectrum of human and animal subjects.

Fraughton became interested in art, and especially sculpture, at an early age. He remembers carefully studying the design and form of his toy horses and soldiers when he was a child, finding that both sides of each figure were mirror images of each other with a seam running between. When he was in the fourth grade, he began drawing buildings and other objects he saw every day, winning the 1949 Milton Bradley Company's "America the Beautiful" Crayon Art Competition with a depiction of a local Victorian-era train station. He credits his teacher at Marsac Elementary in Park City, Alene Gibbons, with recognizing and fostering his talents. He also notes that his mother, Clara, and his stepfather, Charles "Zip" C. Nelson, encouraged his early artistic interests. Following his childhood success, Fraughton attended the University of Utah to study civil engineering in hopes of becoming a sculptor of monumental works. He felt that taking classes in geometry, math and engineering would help him in the casting and armature building processes. While at the University, he also took classes in drawing and sculpture with Professor Ed Maryon and Dr. Avard Fairbanks and counts these men as influential in shaping his development as an artist. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.

Following his formal education, which he largely financed by working night shifts at local steel fabrication plant, Fraughton struggled to make ends meet by working in sales, serving as a substitute high school teacher, driving truck as a delivery boy and laboring as a foundry worker in a local bronze casting facility. In 1966, he was hired by Thiokol Chemical Corporation to apply his artistic training at the newly opened Job Corps Center in Clearfield, Utah. Managed by the Office of Economic Opportunity, Job Corps was an initiative launched by the Lyndon Johnson Administration to fight the "War on Poverty." After the first year of operations, on August 22, 1967, Fraughton received a letter from W. C. Hearnton, Assistant Director of Avocational Training, stating in part:

"For nearly three months after reporting for work here at Clearfield, he (referring to Fraughton) was the only member of the Arts and Crafts Department. During this three month period, he wrote and secured OEO approval for the curriculum that we are now offering to our Corpsmen population. Out of the one hundred and fifty (150) Job Corps Centers located throughout the United States, our program is viewed by OEO as the best in existence. In no small measure, the success of our program can be attributed to the professional competence and know-how of Mr. Fraughton."

Resigning from the Job Corps in 1967 to launch his full-time career as a professional sculptor, Fraughton's first sculpture commission involved creating a series of historical portraits for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In 1968 he was commissioned by the Sons of Utah Pioneers and Mormon Battalion associations to create a heroic monument commemorating the historic Mormon Battalion trek from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to San Diego, California during the 1846-1847 Mexican-American War. His heroic 12-foot monumental Mormon Battalion Soldier stands at the highest point in San Diego's Presidio Park.

National recognition began to mount in 1973 when Fraughton was awarded his first gold medal at the National Academy of Western Art for his sculpture entitled, "Where Trails End." Awards from the National Sculpture Society, National Academy of Design and other prestigious art organizations soon followed. In 1980, Fraughton was selected to create the inaugural medal for President Ronald Reagan. During his eight years in office, a copy of "Where Trails End" was exhibited in President Reagan's private office in the White House. The same piece is now on permanent display at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Fraughton's current work involves a ten year collaborative effort with fellow sculptors, Kent Ullberg and Blair Buswell. Commissioned by the First National Bank of Omaha, the heroic bronze installation titled, "Nebraska Wilderness" and "Pioneer Courage," depicts an historic pioneer wagon train moving west through Nebraska's wilderness during the mid 1800s. Encountering a herd of wild American bison, the animals quickly turn and run through the city streets toward the Bank's new 40-story office building. As the buffalo approach an elevated pond and fountain facing the building's front entrance, a flock of Canada geese explode from the water, fly around the surrounding air space and through the windows of a glassed-in atrium housing the building's historic facade. The geese slowly morph from traditional bronze into polished stainless steel as they enter the building. The artistic effect and integration of all elements create a unique and startling effect in the world of contemporary realist sculpture. When completed, the project will likely represent the largest single installation of monumental sculpture in North America, the linear space covering an area greater than three and one-half city blocks.

Also an inventor, Fraughton has developed an improved method for enlarging his sculpture into monumental scale. Using digital imaging and CNC cutting, his technique allows positive clay components to be produced to any scale with greater integrity, thus improving efficiency during the direct modeling stage.

Today Fraughton works to create sculpture that is both monumental in scale and that inspires its viewer to move around it, experiencing it from many different angles. He most often creates images based on wildlife and heroic historical subjects, and although he is talented at drawing, he prefers to remain a sculptor only. In addition to his many commissions throughout the United States, including the Mormon Battalion Monument in San Diego, California's Presidio Park, and the Spirit of Wyoming in Cheyenne, Fraughton is a founding member of the National Academy of Western Art (now called the Prix de West) and a longtime member of the National Sculpture Society and the Society of Animal Artists. He has exhibited throughout the United States at such venues as the Whitehouse in Washington, D.C., and at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

All images on this page are from Museum events and artists' subject files. Images of the statues were photographed by the archivist in June 2010.

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