Sculptor Bryan Tedrick created a magnificent life-sized sculpture of a bull, which is in the collection of the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation. Bryan’s story (below) of how Bull came to be illustrates the public art process from the point of view of the artist.
Bryan Tedrick: “In 2004, Bruce Johnson invited me to be his representative at a show entitled “Natural Selection” taking place at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa. He and four other sculptors started the sculpture garden there and they each invited a younger artist to participate. I accepted his generous offer.
To honor Bruce, who works primarily in wood, I decided to make something mainly of wood. For years I have admired the strength and power of bulls and felt this would be a good opportunity to make one. I had been making many smaller animals but never life sized. Museums are replete with sculptures of bulls (think Indian art, Greek, Assyrian, etc.) and I knew the latent power in the bull form would make for good sculpture. I remember seeing a torso of Hercacles at the De Young Museum Vatican show and the contained power and energy therein seemed like the right feeling to express in a bull sculpture.
I started collecting redwood driftwood. In particular, I remember going to Goat Rock beach in Jenner at sunset and carrying, dragging and pushing a 200-pound chunk into my truck in an epic struggle which just about wiped me out. My small brain finally figured out that all driftwood originates in the forest and from then on I went directly to the source where I could back my truck closer to the wood and load without killing myself. I own some land on the Gualala River and that is where most of the wood in the Bull comes from.
As a model, I used images from a book on Animal Anatomy for Artists which shows the skeletal structure, muscles, etc. This helped get the proportions correct. The gesture I invented myself (the lifting of the leg and twist of the neck). I made a full scale profile on the studio floor in chalk, and started joining pieces together. The quickest, strongest method I came up with was to drill long holes and drive rebar through them and then clinch it together with a big hammer. Kind of brutal, but I liked it; seemed to match the bull energy I was looking for. I just kept adding pieces to more pieces until the form filled out to my satisfaction. Using a natural knot for the eyeball and such was done spontaneously. I found steel was good for structural reinforcement and detailing. The bottom steel base plate helps tie the whole thing together structurally and makes it easier to transport and show. I originally titled the sculpture “Zebu” (mainly because I was playing scrabble and looking in the dictionary for words that start with “Z” and saw an image of a Zebu, which looked more like my piece than a regular bull). Over time, I realized no one knew what a Zebu was and so settled on Bull for the title.
The opening at Paradise Ridge went very well. My piece was the favorite in the show and I even had an offer the first day. I decided to hold out since my ask was higher and this was only my first audience and another offer might be better!
A couple of magazines photographed Bull and gave me some publicity. Folks, including Walter Byck owner of the winery, would climb on his back for photographs.
I applied for a show in Redding, California at the new civic center and brought Bull and another sculpture there for 18 months. I also entered Bull into the California State Fair where it won first place in the professional sculpture division.There was then another Paradise Ridge show called “Encore” and Bull stood there another 12 months. Bull was also shown on Fourth Street in San Rafael for a few months where someone kicked its testicles off. They now have a threaded rod holding them in place and I feel sorry for the next fool who kicks them. Over the years I made a few minor structural and cosmetic repairs (including the tail) and continued to recoat the wood and steel with Watco oil. This has improved the overall finish as the wood is more uniform in color and darker, which I like.
In summation, Bull was my first full scaled animal. The response was so positive I now make animals my primary subject matter. I seem to have found my niche and Bull was the gateway to that discovery.”