Nearly 100 times
a year, from March through October, thousands of people stream by
the artwork of sculptor Harry Weber in downtown St. Louis. A dozen
of the artist’s bronze statues, which form a promenade
outside Busch Stadium, represent some of the city’s best-loved
personalities, but few among the throngs attending Cardinal home games
pause to study the art.
Harry Weber creates a bust of former MU basketball coach Norm
Stewart. Weber has created statues of some of Missouri's most-loved
sports and historic personalities. This sculpture will be placed
in the University of Missouri's new basketball arena in Columbia.
out of 100 of those people passing by will stop and say, ‘That’s
a good piece of sculpture,’” says Harry, one of the most prolific
producers of public art in Missouri.
Although his work
has been exhibited in museums and galleries, Harry’s
sculptures are most often enjoyed by sports fans who usually view his pieces
only as fitting tributes to heroes.
“A lot of
those people don’t
think of it as art,” he says. “I
think of it as art but that’s OK if they don’t. If they think
of it as a picture of Bob Gibson that’s great.”
sculpture of legendary Cardinals hurler Bob Gibson is one of a series
of statues on display at the St. Louis ballpark. The figures, which
will be moved to a new Cardinals stadium next year, are just a few
of the many sculptures Harry has produced to honor historical and
University of Missouri football games in Columbia pass by a 13-foot
statue of coach Don Faurot. The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield
displays a number of Harry’s
busts of Missouri sports figures along with two life-size works — one
capturing golf pro Payne Stewart in mid-swing and another showing
WNBA and Southwest Missouri State star Jackie Stiles, her arms poised
to sink a basket.
Weber sculpts a clay likeness of Herb Fanning, the unofficial
mayor of Lynchburg, Tenn. The statue, commissioned by the Jack
Daniel’s distilling company, will include a checkerboard
Like many of Harry’s
sculptures, these pieces portray the drama of the sport and not just
a likeness of his subjects.
like glorifying action and motion,” says Harry, a member
of Cuivre River Electric Cooperative. “I think of my sculptures
as extreme slow motion. The drama you get when you see a football
game or something replayed that’s the kind of activity I want
in a bronze.”
is not limited to sports figures. Other pieces, such as a statue
of pioneer Hannah Cole recently installed in Boonville, depict historical
figures. Four figures in front of the Boone County Fire Protection
in Columbia present iconic views of firefighters.
The range and
diversity of Harry’s work is especially remarkable considering
he was discouraged from pursuing art as a career and later cautioned
against specializing in sculpture.
Raised in St. Louis,
Harry comes from a family steeped in art. Two great-uncles were respected
landscape painters and his grandfather operated art supply stores.
father, an architectural engineer who helped design structural
supports for the Gateway Arch, had little use for artists.
He was not pleased when Harry expressed a desire to become one.
father was very much against it. He was going to send me to Washington
University and enroll me in the engineering school,” Harry
couldn’t stand the idea of being an engineer.”
and his wife, Anne, are avid horse enthusiasts. The couple
participates in fox hunts and Anne trains horses for show-jumping.
Harry got his start as a sculptor creating statues of horses
enthusiasts and art-conscious sports fans Harry Weber is known
as a gifted artist. But in certain circles, particularly among
show jumpers and fox hunting equestrians, the artist may be
better known as Anne Weber’s husband . . . (READ MORE)
Harry pulled a reply card from a Reader’s Digest
magazine and accepted the Navy’s offer to pay college
costs. After earning a degree in art history Harry spent
six years in the Navy, including a year on river boats
in Vietnam, where he chronicled his experiences in an ever-present
service Harry worked in marketing and illustrated books and sold
cartoons on the side. In the early 1980s he began experimenting with
sculpture. An avid horse enthusiast who rode in fox hunts, Harry
was asked to create a statue of a foxhound for the local bridle
club. The piece was a success and the artist created
more small sculptures reflecting the equestrian and fox hunting
an unexpected endorsement when he displayed some of his work in an
upscale store in New York. A thief smashed a window and made off
with his sculptures, along with those of Western artist Frederick
Remington and other scultors much better known than Harry.
don’t think the thief knew what he was doing, but I was very
says. “I count that as the beginning of my
confers with Vlad Zhitomirsky during the installation of a
sculpture of pioneer Hannah Cole in Boonville. Zhitomirsky
heads VMD Sculptures of Olivette, one of two firms which produce
the final bronze sculptures from Harry’s original artwork.
is not a sculptor, at least not in the sense that he chips away stone.
Instead, he’s a modeler, producing original
artwork that becomes sculpture. Working with clay
he pushes and shapes details with his fingers and
fists. When the piece is completed he ships it
off to have molds and bronze casts made.
do the original art but it’s a team of
people working,” Harry
says. “Each bronze you see out in front
of a building probably helped employ about 10
people and had three different companies involved.”
of the effort and expense involved few artists
can earn a living producing sculptures. It
was no surprise Harry received little encouragement
when he told a close friend he was considering
giving up marketing to become a full-time sculptor.
give up your day job,” the friend said. Harry ignored
In the past 22
years Harry has produced about 150 small pieces and 60 large sculptures,
including large busts. Although he began his career producing
tabletop-size sculptures of jumping horses and
foxhounds, today Harry specializes in large monuments,
commissioned by corporations or public entities.
Currently he’s working
on sculptures for the Kansas City Royals,
Jack Daniel’s distilling company,
Baylor University in Texas and the University
Besides being more
profitable, these monumental works are more satisfying to the artist.
“It’s a lot more strenuous and a lot more physical activity sculpting
something big than when you’re
sculpting something on a desk top,” Harry
says. “I get to shove clay around
a lot more loosely with my hands and
fingers and my fists than I do with dental
tools and magnifying glasses.”
works on his bust of basketball coach Norm Stewart.
large or small Harry’s sculptures
reveal the personality of his subjects.
And while his work appears to convey
every detail, he says that’s
just an illusion.
like they’re highly detailed but it’s
the suggestion of detail. You can
see the batting glove in Ozzie Smith’s
back pocket but it’s not so
compulsive that you can see the stitching,” Harry
would say it’s an impressionistic
style. It’s a little more suggestive,
loose and spontaneous as opposed
to absolutely tight, every whisker
One thing not missing
from Harry’s work is a sense
of drama. His ability to capture
motion in bronzetransforms mere
likenesses of a subject into iconic
images that truly immortalize and
“I like things
that move,” he says. Even
in the bust I try to get some activity.
I try to make them come alive.”
For more information log onto www.harryweber.com.