Posts Tagged ‘Forest Hart’


Hampden Academy’s Bronco

October 3, 2012

Community Artist: Forest Hart

The following update is from art educator Leah Olson who had submitted photos in the spring that I posted about the sculpture being created for the new Hampden Academy. Students and teachers have just moved in to the new school, and so has the bronco.

Today I received a gift that has surpassed my expectations of what the arts can do for a community. Forest Hart never stops giving. He presented 32” x 20” framed and matted picture mosaic of the process to David Greenier (then vice principal), Ruey Yehle (principal), and myself. I couldn’t help but feel the tears coming on!  In one of the pictures, my son and I are putting clay on the sculpture. 

Emil Genest, Assistant Superintendent, David Greenier, 45 year Assistant Principal who just retired, Forest Hart, Leah Olson, and Ruey Yehle, Principal

Forest Hart –  “Known as “Toby” to old friends — moved to Hampden with his family in 1948 when he was five years old. Artistry was always a part of Hart’s motivation as a taxidermist. His animals display the spirit and authenticity of living creatures, and his unique work has won awards in competitions all over the country. Given his drive and his innate creativity, the progression to casting animals in bronze was, perhaps, inevitable. Now his bronzes are winning accolades far and wide.”  About the Bronco – “It also led to an unparalleled gift of time, beauty, education and history for the town in Maine where he grew up.” – Robin Wood – Bangor Daily News

“We are absolutely thrilled about this,” Hampden Academy principal Ruey Yehle said as she helped push clay onto the horse frame. “They will take ownership of this bronco and they’ll take a lot of pride in it.”  Mrs. Yehle went several Saturday’s with students to work on the sculpture. She has worked tirelessly for this school system so that students have a high quality education in every way possible. Excellence in the small details consistently makes for excellence overall. Hampden Academy has two “state of the art” art rooms now! While in the planning stages Mrs. Yehle asked many questions to art teachers, furniture people, and architects as to what would work best for a student experiencing a successful studio art room.

The power of the arts lives strong here in this community. What is even more remarkable is that Forest Hart did not charge the school the money that it cost to create the large bronze bronco. It is a gift from the Hart’s. The idea is that by selling the smaller table top broncos the cost of the full-sized monument will be covered. “What if you don’t sell enough to pay for the job?” he was asked.
“That thought never entered my mind,” Hart remembers saying. “But I told them, ‘that’s my responsibility, not yours.’”

I am inclined to think that not just the alumni and residents of Hampden would purchase this magnificent tabletop sculpture – but anyone, anywhere who believes in the power of the arts symbolized in a running bronco. It connects us and reaches us in ways that cannot be said. This gift teaches us that through making small differences in our lives can have large effects. I have personally learned this year that the ability and willingness to surrender to unanticipated possibilities can bring opportunities, inspiration and an unprecedented pride about education for students…..priceless.


Hampden Academy Bronco

May 24, 2012

Galloping bronze

On Friday, May 18, 2012, the Bangor Daily published an article on the new Hampden Academy Bronco that is being created for the high school scheduled to open for students in September. Artist and Hampden Academy graduate, Forest Hart has created a wonderful opportunity and gift for the students and community.

Thank you to Art teacher (and arts assessment teacher leader) Leah Olson for sending this post that includes the experience that students and staff had throughout the process of creating the bronco.

“A great teacher never strives to explain his vision. He simply invites you to stand beside him and see for yourself.” (Raymond Inmon)
It was with mixed emotions that we completed our last visit to work on the New Academy Bronco sculpture on Saturday, May 12. It has been a wonderful experience for faculty and students. I organized and carried through many scheduled trips which were attended by various faculty and administration. As a first year Hampden Academy Art teacher, I see very clearly that the loyalty of alumni is strong. I feel very fortunate to be a part of Hampden Academy’s past, present and future! It is an experience that will always bring a sense of pride in what our mascot is about! My interpretation:

Freedom of expression – Freedom to be lifelong learners – Freedom to take education that is offered and go for it!

May 5

The work we did on Saturday, May 5th, consisted of placing shims (pieces of metal) along the seams of the sculpture that are used to separate parts of the plaster mold. We also worked on making “birds nests” from hemp that is like hay to hold the plaster mold.

The Master Mold – Getting ready for bronze –  A mold is a container used to shape material. The clay bronco was divided into multiple sections by inserting thin flat metal strips (shims), on end, into the surface of the soft clay. Next a rubber material was brushed onto each side of the dividers. The rubber flows and forms into every detail of the sculpture. Several coats are applied, being careful not to completely cover the metal shims. The shims keep the rubber sides from sticking together. After the rubber has dried, wet plaster (with the hemp “nests” we just made) will be put on top of the rubber. The plaster will  harden to form a casing around the flexible rubber to maintain its shape once the clay is removed. When the plaster has hardened, the mold is opened at the shims dividing the sculpture. The clay bronco is removed. It will leave two halves which when joined back together form a container/cavity in the shape of the bronco that will be used to pour liquid bronze in.  

May 12

When we arrived at the studio, the Bronco was completely encased with a white rubber coating.  Quite a shock as I was used to seeing the gray clay.  The goal of the 24 hour day was to get the sculpture completely covered with plaster.  The studio was set up for beginning the process of adding the plaster. Officer Stewart, James and I worked outside making “birds nests” from hemp that is used to create a strong plaster mold. Jacob worked with the other men adding the plaster to the Bronco. My son had the fortunate job of unwrapping the small bronze sculptures from the foundry that are sold in gallery spaces. He was also busy taking pictures with his IPad so he could document his experience. I think he took about a hundred pictures and then he learned about “editing”.

Once the Bronco is sent to the foundry in Colorado, it will take up to two months before it is returned. Not sure if the sculpture will be in place when school opens in the fall. So many factors in the final steps make it difficult to predict when the unveiling event will take place.


I have learned a great deal about sculpture and the importance of the arts in communities. Mr. and Mrs. Hart welcomed us into their studio space to be a part of something great. They understand that the sculpture experience is important to promote as education, advocacy for the arts, respect for nature and pride of community.  
From the bottom of our “H(e)arts” – THANK YOU!

Links below to other information about the sculpture and Mr. Hart.

Here is a link to the Hart’s website.

This link will take you to an impressive article written about him.

Hampden Academy Students Build a New Bronco –


In Today’s News

May 18, 2012

Galloping bronze sculpture

Read in the Living section of the Bangor Daily News today, May 17th, about the work of sculptor Forest Hart and how he is connecting with students from Hampden Academy to create the sculpture for their new school. Article written by Robin Clifford Wood. Click here for the article.

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