Grand Lake: ‘Boy Reading to his Dog’ unveiled in support of child literacy
August 22, 2008
In its aim to support public art, a group of resident investors gifted a new bronze sculpture to the town of Grand Lake. The public is invited to celebrate its unveiling Sunday on the south side of the Juniper Library in the town park.
Currently called “Boy Reading to his Dog,” the life-size work is the creation of artist
Howard Neville, who also designed and created the Ike Eisenhower sculpture recently dedicated in Fraser.
His newest sculpture emulates the goal of the national Sit, Stay, Read! program, which supports youth literacy by encouraging kids to read to their pets.
In conjunction with the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Literacy, a DIBELS Oral Reading Frequency test was administered to program participants and showed an increase in their reading rate by an average of 24 words per minute.
“They learn to read easier and quicker because there’s no intimidation,” Neville said.
Investors, organized by business owners Ray and Julia Blanchard, collaborated on the general idea and Neville went to work carving the boy fisherman. He looked for a model around the age of 10 and found one in Jackson Chessman, whose family Neville had known for some time.
“I just love kids and he seemed to be the right little kid for this project,” Neville said.
Lab “Pongo,” owned by the Kuriyama family, “sat in” with the artist for the second portion and Neville said he had to walk him for about an hour just to get Pongo tired.
As with Ike, friend Chip Pittman helped weld together the work after it returned from the foundry.
“When you weld for an artist you become a creative welder,” Neville said of Pittman. “I brought Chip along and he did another great job.”
Half of the proceeds from the sale of a miniature version went toward the project. The group raised $34,000 that way, with the lion’s share of the rest coming from “a nice couple from Golden.” Two miniatures of the Boy Reading to His Dog remain, one to be donated to the library to keep or for auction, and the other available for $2,000.
The sculptor, who has specialized in capturing the essence of people throughout his long artistic career, said “It’s just who I am and what I do. They (the works) are a road map of my life.” What many may not know is that Neville is also an accomplished painter. His next plans involve getting back into watercolors, with a series of paintings planned during the National Democratic Convention.
“Boy Reading to His Dog” joins several other sculptures on display within Grand County, including one of Phimister Proctor, Waiting for the Parade, and the bears in the Cooper Creek Square fountain. Neville also has about six other “irons in the fire,” including a sculpture of young snowboarders scheduled for placement at SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch.
As part of the sculpture dedication, the Juniper Library and town of Grand Lake will have ballot boxes up for a contest to name the statue. The winner’s suggestion will be engraved on a plaque to be set with the sculpture.
“We just wanted to start to promote public art and this was a good way to do it,” Ray Blanchard said. “We’re very excited to see it set there.”