There’s an element of art in every casting, but it’s often overlooked that there is an impressive degree of technical proficiency at work in the numerous fine-art foundries. Cars and aircraft are filled with castings, but a well-crafted sculpture will capture public attention. It’s the creativity and skill of such foundries that can make the world appreciate the ingenuity of metalcasting.

Last year was Arizona’s centennial anniversary, and Ed Reilly of Bronzesmith Fine Arts Foundry and Gallery in Prescott Valley, AZ, noticed that no one in the state had created a sculpture to commemorate the event. So, Reilly took the opportunity as a project for his nonferrous art foundry.

He learned that a well-known local artist and Western historian, Bob Boze Bell, had been commissioned to create a painting for the centennial observance. When he saw the completed painting, Reilly recognized that the image of a strong pioneer woman would make an excellent sculpture, one that would be in line with many of the works his foundry had cast. He also believed it would remind people of the important role played by pioneer women in the taming the West. It was also a subject not often reflected in Western art.

“At Bronzesmith, we specialize in casting sculptures reflecting Southwestern themes. We work with Native American artists, artists creating cowboy and iconic Western images, and artists involved with transformational or anthropomorphic themes,” Reilly said. “An example of the latter would be an image of a wolf transforming into an eagle or a man into a bear — images often related to Native American folklore.

“So, the pioneer woman depicted in the painting was clearly an appropriate subject for us,” he continued. “Also, while about half of our sculpture work begins as oil-based clay or other ceramic models, the other half comes from artists who do not normally work in bronze.

“We are particularly adept at helping artists who work in two dimensional media, such as painting and illustration, as well as artists who work with wood carving, papier-mâché, and even textiles, to recreate their work as bronze sculptures,” Reilly noted.

Bronzesmith’s special rendering capabilities draw on the expertise of its in-house art staff together with its 3D digital-scanning technology. This allows the foundry to model almost any work accurately as a foam reproduction. Also, the foundry is able to scale up or scale down virtually any piece to achieve the desired size, up to 20 ft tall.

“I thought Bob’s pioneer woman image would be an excellent subject to render as a monumental sculpture,” Reilly reported. The finished work, titled “Not-So-Gentle Tamer”, will be installed at Arizona’s Prescott Valley Civic Center.

“So, with the painter’s close collaboration and the support of our local government officials, Bronzesmith artist Debbie Gessner began the task of re-creating the image in clay. This was a major undertaking as the final work would stand 10 ft tall.”