Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hugh Glass "The Revenant"

The inaugural Hugh Glass Rendezvous and sculpture unveiling went off with out a hitch.  It was one of the hottest days of the year but history was made that day.  The life-size sculpture of Hugh Glass being mauled by a Grizzly sow was unveiled in conjunction with the program held inside the Hugh Glass park just feet away from the Rendezvous camp site.

In 1823, the real Hugh Glass—a seasoned frontiersman, fur 
trapper, and scout—signed up for an expedition up the Missouri River. 
During this trip, at a point near present-day Lemmon, South Dakota, Glass 
surprised a grizzly bear and her two cubs. The grizzly attacked him before 
he could position his rifle, so Glass fought for his life using only a knife and 
his bare hands. By the time the bear was killed, Glass was terribly mauled 
and mangled. Among Glass’s group, Jim Bridger and John Fitzgerald where 
elected to stay behind and care for Glass—or, seemingly inevitably, to bury 
him when he succumbed to his injuries. However, fearing their own 
exposure as the distance grew between themselves and their initial party, 
or even an attack by nearby indigenous groups, Bridger and Fitzgerald 
made a difficult decision. They collected Glass’s gun, knife, and other 
accoutrements, and left him for dead near the banks of the Grand River. 
Against all odds, Glass did not die. His 200-mile trek back to 
civilization was recounted far and wide among other frontiersmen, and 
 Native American tribes told tales about his brave journey. Everyone 
who lives along the Grand River has heard of Hugh Glass, and he was a 
favorite character for us kids when we fancied ourselves as frontiersmen.
However, when I was creating a sculpture about this iconic story, my 
first focus was on the grizzly. The grizzly had caught Glass off guard, and I 
played the encounter in my mind, seeing their relative positions, and how 
se would have forced him back. But mostly, I imagined the look of power 
and determination on the animal’s face as she protected her cubs, and I 
wondered how I could get the scrap metal to capture that. I decided to 
focus on the eyes, which I formed from sheet metal to be more convex 
than they would have been in life. To soften the look a bit, I tucked in some 
tire chains to represent the fur, and a trusty fork here and there.

South Dakota sculptor John Lopez stands next to his latest creation 
of Hugh Glass being mauled by a Grizzly Bear.

With the new release of the film "The Revenant" starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu,"Oscar Winner for Best Director of Bird Man, 2015" it is time to start a new sculpture. I have started work on a monument featuring Hugh Glass a 19th century fur trapper who was mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead. The mauling took place 25 miles south of where my studio is located near the small town of Lemmon, SD


Here is a clay maquette of the monument I am in the process of building. 

Here are a couple of links to read more about the movie.