WSC Unveils Mountaineer Statue by Alumnus Joshua Tobey
Dec. 9, 2011 -- There is a new big man on campus at Western State College of Colorado (WSC).
WSC art alumnus Joshua Tobey ('00) sculpts the clay figure for The Mountaineer statue. The clay model was used to create a mold for the bronze statue.
Standing at nine feet, from foot to feather, The Mountaineer, Western’s mascot, has been cast in bronze and was installed Dec. 9 outside of the south entrance of Taylor Hall.
The WSC Foundation commissioned art alumnus Joshua Tobey to bring the college mascot to (still) life. WSC alumni and friends donated the funds for The Mountaineer in honor of alumnus Dick Bratton ('54), a Gunnison attorney who has been greatly involved with Western. The Mountaineer was dedicated to Bratton at a ceremony on Dec. 10.
The Mountaineer is the second piece of original artwork by Tobey on Western’s campus. Last year, he created the bear and bull bronze sculptures, Western Challenge, located outside of the Borick Business Building. It was during that piece’s installation that Tobey, who graduated from Western in 2000, came up with the idea for a mountaineer statue outside of Taylor Hall.
“I was looking at the construction of Taylor Hall and it occurred to me that Western needed the mascot sculpted for campus,” Tobey recalled. “I mentioned the idea to Tom [Burggraf, executive director of the WSC Foundation], who agreed and asked me if that was something I would be able to do. Of course, it was something that I would love to do for my alma mater.”
From its massive size to fine details, the statue is unlike anything Tobey has ever created. He typically sculpts contemporary wildlife bronze figures that feature his signature multi-hued patina finish. Applying lessons learned in his human figure sketching classes during his days at Western, he sculpted the human form easily. Due to the nature of the project, Tobey used traditional sculpting techniques and a standard “French brown” patina finish.
“I loved working on this statue -- I never sculpted the human figure on this scale and with all the accoutrements,” Tobey said. “And with the traditional patina finish, the statue will look beautiful as it ages with time and the elements – just like the mountain man himself.”
Tobey, who recently relocated to Loveland, Colo., researched mountain men and also received input from WSC history professor Duane Vandenbusche to develop The Mountaineer. While he included historical elements in the statue, Tobey also took the liberty to tailor The Mountaineer to Western’s heritage and traditions. For example, The Mountaineer is wearing a grizzly bear claw necklace and sports a skyhawk feather in his cap to pay homage to Western’s rivals, Adams State College and Fort Lewis College. In addition, The Mountaineer has a fawn sketched on his leather possibles bag as a tribute to Western’s original mascot. There are other symbolic details specific to Western, education and the Gunnison region to be discovered in the statue.
“The Mountaineer looks magnificent,” remarked Burggraf. “It’s a fitting gift to our campus in honor of Western’s 100-year heritage to horizon legacy. Josh is an amazing artist and sculptor, and to have another one of his pieces adorn our campus is a gift in itself.”