Member Login

Kentucky Sculptor Prepares "Heroic Size" Veterans Memorial for Las Vegas

This article appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by Roger Auge II.

When last we visited sculptor Douwe Blumberg at his studio in northern Pendleton County, he was sculpting three of eighteen military figures for Las Vegas Veteran’s Memorial in preparation for shipment to a foundry in California.

That was three months ago and now two of the three are back, preparing for final assembly, welding and finishing before they are delivered to Las Vegas. Fifteen more are in various stages of the process. The memorial is to open in August, 2014. 

“These are artistic challenges,” says Blumberg, 43, a Los Angeles, Calif., native.   

His voice reflects the quiet confidence of a canoeist paddling around some rocks in midstream.

Each of the 18 military figures, comprised of 14 men and four women, depicts a slice of American veteran’s history from the Revolutionary War through today. The figures, in what sculptors call ‘heroic’ size at 10 to 12 feet tall, are cast in a silverish aluminum-magnesium alloy and will be finished in a silver-gray matt patina “to make them look very light and ghostly, like you are gazing at them through time…” Blumberg says.

Because the castings are delivered to Blumberg in sections, each must be fitted, welded, ground, polished and buffed. The process is laborious. All the statues start as a small 12-inch “maquette” which is then enlarged to full-scale. This full-sized clay version is then sculpted and carved by the artist until it is finally off to the foundry. Although his studio is breezy, one sweats standing still inside on a humid July day.

In addition to working on the Las Vegas installation, Blumberg recently won a sculpture competition for Davidson, N. C., which is so new all he knows is “it will be something coming out of a lake.” Davidson is a suburb of Charlotte.

Also, Blumberg recently completed a project near San Francisco and in a corner of his studio rests a flight of impressionistic sea gulls that will end up in Orlando, Florida, sometime this fall.

“Things are going pretty good,” says Blumberg, knowing what all artists know — which is that the well can run dry as quickly as it can fill. “You never know about next year. You go after so many jobs and you might get seven rejections for one acceptance.”

He and his wife, Marci, an Edgewood native, operate the growing sculpture business on a Pendleton ridge top encompassing ten acres. In other parts of Kentucky’s farm counties, Blumberg’s studio would be a garage or a shed or a small tobacco barn.

While the sculpture operation marches forward, the Blumbergs care for his 91-year-old mother, Marika, who recently transferred to a nursing home near Butler. And, for the summer, they are hosting a ten-year-old Ukrainian youngster named Viktor, “giving him love and a lot of experiences,” Blumberg says.

Roger Auge II is a former reporter with The Kentucky Post and now a freelance writer and instructor at Gateway Community and Technical College.

Photo: Douwe Blumberg’s ‘Birds in Flight,’ designed for Orlando. (Photo provided)