Sunday, September 18, 2005
The Sheepherder "Hay-soos"
Bob Scriver always thought of sculptures in "sets." One set was going to be American characters, which would include the portrait of Ace, Charlie Russell, the Sheriff, Bandito, Tintype, and so on. One figure of that "set" was a sheepherder, a much more sympathetic and appealing one than the characters who occasionally broke into our cabin while they let their sheep eat our clover and dump little turds full of biting flies that stayed the rest of the summer.
This sheepherder statue was one of my favorites, partly because of the dog and partly because sittiing in a high place and looking a long ways is so characteristic of this part of the world. In fact, when the obsessive commotion over the giant statue of Jesus -- meant to signify peace but strewing nothing but belligerence, competition, and missing funds -- was over, I suggested that this statue was much better than any overweening and idolatrous monster.
If it were up to me, I would cast this sheepherder in heroic size (life-size plus one-fifth, which looks life-size when cast), put it up at the top of a hill, and let people who wished peace approach with a stone in their hand to add to a cairn, an ancient tradition that appears in many cultures, including those of the Basque sheepherders. It's the cairn that should be huge, not the statue.
Of course, in this case, the sheepherder named Jesus would be pronounced "Hay-soos."
When I suggested this to Rex and Iola Brennemen, long-time friends and art collectors of Bob's, they said they'd have to think about that for a while. They own a casting of this piece.