Already called “…a treasure for the community and for Arizona,” the bronze sculpture titled “Cowboy in a Storm” will be the centerpiece of the Phippen Roundabout currently being constructed on Highway 89 northeast of Prescott.
The sculpture is a many-times magnified replica of the original 16-inch work of renowned Western artist George Phippen. Phippen, after whom the Phippen Museum is named, created a piece featuring a cowboy astride a bucking horse leaping over a calf.
Produced through collaborative efforts of the Phippen Museum, the Prescott Art Trust, and City of Prescott, the cost for the statue — approximately $165,000 — is covered through private donations from Jim Chamberlain and the Harold James Family trust and other donations. Substantial support is being given through the Bronzesmith Fine Art Foundry and Galley and its staff in Prescott Valley.
The sculpture is being cast at the Bronzesmith Foundry. The clay model for the sculpture was shown to the public during an open house Oct. 12, hosted by foundry owners Ed and Kathy Reilly.
Speaking to those in attendance, Ed Reilly said, “We have been honored by being asked to cast the 14-foot-tall monument to be in the roundabout.”
Reilly said the statue was a difficult one to produce because it was quite complex in its design, especially because the upper potion was “cantilevered” — extending outward with only one end anchored firmly. Reilly explained that initially the enlarged replica was blown up almost 10 times the size of the original. It was shaped and cut out in Styrofoam and coated in wax. Then, artist Deb Gessner applied clay and carefully sculpted it into the final piece, which will be used as the mold for the last wax bronze casting process.
Casting of the estimated 65 pieces that will form the final statue will take several months. Once the individual pieces are cast, they are welded together and then fitted onto a frame that will hold the sculpture up.
Reilly praised Gessner. “She’s done a fabulous job in capturing the motion and expression of this piece. It embodies the humor and feeling that George Phippen put into all his pieces.”
Phippen, who came to Arizona from rural life in Iowa and Kansas, lived in Skull Valley. His son Loren said that Phippen was always trying to capture the life of working cowboys.
Reilly said the roundabout is scheduled to be completed sometime during spring 2018. He speculates the statue will be completed by May 2018. It then will be taken to the roundabout and placed on the concrete base at its center.
Reilly said, “What’s neat — anyone going all the way around that roundabout will get a 360- degree view of this wonderful piece of Phippen art in front of the Phippen museum. What a tribute to its creator.”