Copper in the Arts

July 2009

Capturing the Wild West Through Bronze

By Robyn Jasko

jerry anderson sculptor

Jerry Anderson bronze in the Silver Reef Museum

Photograph by Regina Jasko

Born in Las Vegas, Jerry Anderson first fell in love with the West when he was just a boy, as he traveled around from place to place with his father, a well driller. As Anderson grew older, he continued to be infatuated with the culture, history and people of the West, taking jobs as a miner and ranch hand before dedicating his life to art. Today, Anderson's deep Western roots have helped him become one of America's leading bronze sculptors, capturing the spirit, landscape, and stories from this unique part of the country.

Anderson approaches each piece with a new perspective, and no two works are exactly alike, although all are weaved into his signature Western style.

"My heart or desire is Cowboys, all animals and a lot of Indians," Anderson adds.

Most of Anderson's works are made to order lifesize bronze pieces that are impressive in size and detail, capturing the emotions of his subject. His work is then cast at Adonis Bronze in Alpine, Utah and Baer Bronze in Spanish Fork, Utah.

"Bronze is the best medium to depict my artwork---it has a certain charisma or eternal feeling of power," says Anderson.

Using the lost wax process, Anderson starts by putting an oil base clay on the maquettes and lifesize pieces. Next, he applies the mold and then waxes the piece before pouring in the bronze. To finish the work, he patinates the sculpture to achieve his desired look.

jerry anderson work

Jerry Anderson bronze sculpture

Photograph by Regina Jasko

Anderson's interest in Western culture also led to the founding of a museum, located in the old mining town of Silver Reef, where he also lives. One of Utah's most accessible ghost towns, The Silver Reef Museum and Anderson's own gallery now occupy the former Wells Fargo building, which he helped renovate.

The museum contains several copper and metal artifacts found in the town, along with a collection of Anderson's own art work, on view throughout the year.

"It was near the house we built in Silver Reef, so it was a natural building to restore and house my work along with other artists," adds Anderson. "My favorite piece in the museum is the one quarter life size stagecoach," says Anderson. "My brother made the stage and I made the rest. It will eventually be the model for the world's largest bronze. The 6 Up Stage will be 120 ft long and 28 ft tall (double life size). "

Anderson recently installed his 50th life size monument this past May, and is an advocate for public art and bronze sculpture.

"I think that world is somewhat passive to bronze artwork now," says Anderson. "But I do believe the hearts of many city mayors and historical minded people are or should be thinking of bringing back their heroes in bronze statuary. Every city has one or two heroes."

Resources:

Jerry Anderson Gallery and Silver Reef Museum, Silver Reef, UT, (435) 879-2254

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