Click on photos to enlarge.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cabela's Sculptures

Cabela's bronze Bear Versus Eagle, Wheeling, West Virginia
When we think of Cabela's, we seldom think of art. In fact, when we call to mind the nationwide chain of outfitters, and sporting goods stores, it might be safe to say the last thing we think about would be art. That should not be the case. True, you're not going to find them selling Monet reproductions or images from the ateliers of De Kooning or John Singer Sargent. Cabela's is a man's store if there ever was one, though they do feature a number of items for the wives of their primary clientele. Inside, one gets the feeling that the store drinking fountain may be spouting pure testosterone. At the same time, they are big on exactly one type of art--wildlife. You see it neatly matted and framed behind glass on their walls, in the form of bronze lamps, tabletop sculptures, and dozens of examples of the taxidermist's art arranged in pseudo-natural settings like targets in a shooting gallery. It is art, I guess, though not unquestionably so.

Unfortunately, the names of Cabela sculptors are not as
widely available as their images. I could find only two.
Cabela's Pony Express Rider
outside their Sidney, Nebraska,
headquarters store.
Although the company handles a smattering of art-related items, the real art is outside, between the store and the parking lot in the form of independently com-missioned monumental bronze sculptures of (you guessed it) wildlife. Although the company has made its fortune facilitating the killing of wildlife, they are to be congratulated for their support of talented sculptors whose work is aimed at the preservation of the spirit of animals in the wild. Each store has a different bronze sculpture, some quite dramatic, some even including the human element from the past such as that outside the company's larg-est store in Hamburg, Pennsyl-vania (above), and their Pony Express Rider on the grounds of their headquarters complex in Sidney, Nebraska (above, right).

A broad sampling of Cabela's corporate tastes in art.
Mike Hamby's bronze sculpture, Fierce Encounter (above), can be found in front of Cabela's Dundee, Michigan, store. This sculpture is one of the largest bronze wildlife sculptures ever created. Born and raised in Lehi, Utah, Mike Hamby has always had a fascination for Native American culture. Much of his childhood was spent exploring the canyons and history of his home state, experiencing firsthand its timeless wonders. The effect is evident in his work, as seen in the remarkable flair for the richness of the past. His work is flavored with the soul of the desert, the mountains, and the determination of the people who live there. His aggressive style and intense focus gives each piece a distinct history all its own. Mike has been blessed with a unique combination of talents, as an artist, musician, illustrator, and retired pro football player.

Outside the Cabela's store, Mitchell, South Dakota.
Beverly Paddleford's Corn Stalkin' (above), is just outside the Cabela's in Mitchell, South Dakota. Beverly is co-owner of Eagle Bronze, Inc. of Lander, Wyoming. She and her husband, Monte, have been producing bronze sculptures ranging in size from miniature to monumental in their foundry since 1985. They now operate one of the largest foundries in the United States, and second to none in monument production. Raised in an atmosphere of creativity by her father, sculptor Bud Boller, Beverly was not able to devote extensive time to her art until Eagle Bronze and her husband and four daughters could afford her the time. Finally, in 1995 she was able to work on her first bronze monument, The Lineman, for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Headquarters in Washington, D. C. In 1998 she was commissioned by Cabela’s to create a bronze monument for their new store in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The result was a larger-than-life monument of two sparring bull moose titled Northern Challenge. That was followed by a monument for the new Cabela’s store in Mitchell, South Dakota. Placed there in 1999, Corn Stalkin’ (above)is a three-times life-size monument of a fox flushing out three pheasants.

Cabela's, Verdi, Nevada


No comments:

Post a Comment