Friday, April 19, 2013

Concrete cowboy

Long before artist George Segal began casting his friends in plaster to make his famous signature Pop Art sculptural tableaux there was Oscar Simpson pioneer dentist. Simpson, who lived in Dodge City invented the gold inlay process that was to be the bad-boy brand for generations of gangsters and via his teeth modelling skills became an enthusiastic amateur sculptor. So when Dodge City was looking to celebrate its new City Hall in 1929 it was Oscar Simpson who came up with the idea for a cowboy statue. All of which was so, so news for his friend Joe Sughrue a law enforcement officer soon to be Marshal of Dodge City. But Joe was a good pal and lay down in a wooden box fully clothed in cowboy gear and allowed Oscar to fill it with plaster. When this set it was carefully detatched and used as a mould for a concrete pour. For the face a life mask was created with a couple of straws poked into Joe’s nose for breathing purposes. As is most often the case when someone is having plaster poured on his face the sculpture has its eyes closed an alarming detail in the depiction of someone who has just drawn a six shooter.
Images: Top Oscar Simpson’s cowboy sculpture standing on Dodge City’s Boot Hill. Bottom left Joe Sugharue and right detail of Simpson’s sculpture