Massive bronze sculpture for Route 66's Cyrus Avery Plaza nearly ready
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
9/12/12 at 12:54 PM
Clint Howard has cast a bronze sculpture or two - but not one like this.
Not a larger-than-life monument of a larger-than-life personality to be displayed alongside one of America's iconic roadways.
Not one of Cyrus Avery, accompanied by his wife and daughter, driving a Model-T along Route 66.
"It is a huge undertaking," Howard, owner of Deep in the Heart Art Foundry, said during a phone interview from Bastrop, Texas. "And it's fun. But still, it has been intimidating at times because we want everything to look perfect."
Tulsans will get the chance to see just how close to perfect the bronze sculpture - named "East Meets West" - really is next month when it is unveiled at the Cyrus Avery Plaza at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Southwest Boulevard.
The unveiling will end work that began in 2003, when Tulsa County residents approved $1.2 million in Vision 2025 funds for the project - part of $15 million allocated for Route 66 projects.
The sculpture was scheduled to be finished in 2009, but the contract was modified to allow for delivery this year.
Howard and his staff have been working on it for about six years.
The sculpture, by Texas artist Robert Summers, features Avery and family in a Model T as they encounter a horse-drawn carriage on its way from the west Tulsa oil fields.
At 135 percent actual size, the sculpture will weigh nearly 20,000 pounds, stretch more than 60 feet from end to end, and rise 15 feet in the air.
Avery, a former Tulsa County commissioner, is considered the father of Route 66 because he lobbied Congress in 1926 to make it a national highway stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles.
At the time, Tulsa was figured to be the perfect spot for the road to cross the Arkansas River because of the 11th Street Bridge.
Howard estimates that by the time the sculpture is complete, his foundry will have cast and welded nearly 1,000 pieces of bronze.
It's the detail of the "East Meets West" sculpture that separates it from other large pieces Howard has done.
"This is definitely the most complicated, based on all the components and the levels of detail," Howard said. "We have all the pedals in the floorboard, the key in the ignition, the brake assembly."
Summers delivered a table-top version of the sculpture to Howard in 2006. Howard then began the process of creating a mold, beginning with the creation of a Styrofoam version of the sculpture.
After covering the Styrofoam sculpture with an oil-based clay, Summers returned to sculpt the statue with the detail of the table-top version.
"Then we make a mold on it," Howard said.
Working on sections at a time, he and his staff poured 2,000-degree bronze into ceramic shells - then knocked off the shells.
"Then we started reassembling the statue from all these castings we have made from bronze," Howard said.
"Originally it was one-fifth life size, and now it is 135 percent life size.
"You are talking about 8 1/2-feet figures for the people, cars and wagons. Everything is oversized."
Howard said it will take at least one 18-wheeler, maybe two, to transport the sculpture to town next month.
"It will come up to Tulsa in four sections, plus maybe some miscellaneous parts," Howard said. "I am planning on it taking two weeks (to assemble) and hoping it can get done faster."
Original Print Headline: Larger than life
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Clint Howard (far left) directs the assembly of the “East Meets West” sculpture by Robert Summers at Howard’sDeep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop, Texas, on Tuesday. The larger-than-life bronze sculpture will bedelivered to Tulsa and installed at the Cyrus Avery Plaza in time for its unveiling next month.REBECCA SCOGGIN MCENTEE/for the Tulsa World
A scale model of “East Meets West,” shown next to the feet of a foundry employee, shows what the larger-than-life bronze sculpturewill look like when assembled in Tulsa. REBECCA SCOGGIN MCENTEE/for the Tulsa World
Metal worker Orlando Arce welds on the right rear wheel of the wagon in the sculpture “East Meets West” at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop, Texas, on Tuesday. REBECCA SCOGGIN MCENTEE/for the Tulsa World
A close-up shows the detailof a face in the sculpture. REBECCA SCOGGIN MCENTEE/for the Tulsa World
The sculpture depicts Cyrus Avery, known as the father ofRoute 66, at the wheel of his Model T. REBECCA SCOGGIN MCENTEE/for the Tulsa World