Bulldog Mascot, Bulldog Plaza

Submitted by Bennett Studio

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Client: Drake University

Location: Des Moines , IA, United States

Completion date: Jan 01, Array

Artwork budget: $40,500

Project Team

Sculpture Design, Project Management

Chris Bennett

Bennett Studio

Art Consultant

Liz Lidgett

Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design

3-D modeling, 3-D prints

Kevin Galloway

Across the Board Creations

Foundry Processes

Kayla Griffin

Eagle Bronze

Sculpture Plaza Install

Jeremy Harder

Hansen Construction

Project Photos

Chris Maharry

Chris Maharry Photography

Overview

Through a regional invitational search my submission was chosen by Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, through Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design. Private funding was used for the project.

They sought an artist to create a one-and-a-half times life-size bronze Bulldog mascot “Griff”, to be premiered in their newly designed thirty-foot diameter Bulldog Plaza. The oversized Bulldog measures twenty-eight inches tall to the top of the ears, twenty-four inches to the top of the withers, and thirty-inches long. It is installed on a forty-inch tall brick and limestone capped pedestal.

I collaborated with five separate companies to complete the project. They were Across the Board Creations, Eagle foundry, Hansen Construction contributing, Chris Maharry photography, and Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design.

Goals

Bulldog Plaza was established within an entire newly landscaped and side-walked area, spread out in front of Old Main, the visual public gateway of Drake University in Des Moines. The plaza with the bronze sculpture, is a gathering and photo space for campus students and visitors. Negotiations for the project commenced October 2019. The sculpture was completed, installed, and unveiled by October 10th, 2020.

Attractive Bulldog Plaza is being well used for public and private events, and photographs back-dropped by the classic architecture of Old Main. The central bronze sculpture is much appreciated for student and alumni photo opportunities, also nose rubbings for luck. “Griff” has been adorned with ribbons of Drake-blue, and will surely be adorned with additional festive attire in the future.

Process

In October 2019 Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design contacted me on behalf of Drake University, Des Moines to produce a 1.5 x life-size bronze Bulldog.

I forwarded a drawing to Across the Board Creations. By February 2020 they had 3-D modeled a prototype. It was submitted for approval, and subsequently revised several times until receiving client/sponsor satisfaction.

They 3-D printed a small-scale model, and sent it to the client. Upon approval, the 3-D drawing was enlarged to 1.5 x life-size scale, then 3-D printed in sections.
The sections were sent to Eagle Bronze foundry for processing by July. They refinished the section surfaces, ready for bronze casting. The sections were cast, cleaned, assembled, and refinished. Remotely, I approved the casting, then gave oversight to the final patina and sealing by October.

With client approval, the foundry shipped the sculpture via currier to Hansen Construction. They transferred the bronze to Bulldog Plaza on Drake University campus, where with my collaboration, they had prepared a brick and limestone capped pedestal.

I coordinated with Hansen Construction to install the sculpture. Installation was completed within a few hours.

The plaza-sculpture composition was documented by Chris MaHarry Photography.

Additional Information

It was a pleasure to work with the Liz Lidgett to finish the iconic Bulldog mascot for Drake University. I have successfully worked with a number of other schools and universities to create mascots and sculptures for their campuses. Each of the collaborating companies were patient and very cooperative during several difficult and time sensitive moments encountered during the project. I am working with Across the Board Creations again, and hope to work with each of the other companies again on subsequent commissions. After the completion of the major project, I was asked to produce 3 bronze and 30 composite six and a half inch tall miniature replicas of the bronze Bulldog, for Drake University. Some will be mounted on wooden bases and used for fund raising purposes. As well, I offered the miniatures at four inches, and one-and-a-half inch tall scale for retail purposes.