The Briscoe Western Art Museum enhanced its presence along the River Walk with a massive, three-ton sculpture, “Coming Home to the Briscoe,” created by artist T.D. Kelsey. The sculpture was safely installed in its permanent home next to the river Monday afternoon across from the Villita Assembly Building.
The work was specifically designed for the location and the Briscoe Museum. The vaquero and three cattle he is herding climb up the slope as if they are going to go full gallop into the back doors of the museum.
The placement of the sculpture is quite deliberate, according to board member Jack Guenther.
“We thought it would be appropriate, first of all, for exposure to the river bank. We think that all the folks coming by who see that sculpture will be pulled into the museum,” he said
The detail is impressive – even the bronze rope was cast from actual lariat rope. Since the bronze alloy used in the casting is 95% copper, it was easy to bend the two-foot-long cast pieces and incorporate them into the sculpture.
There was a moment of tension as the sculpture was being installed. A large cypress tree branch threatened to block the way and cutting the tree limb was simply not an option. Slowly but surely, the crane operator maneuvered the sculpture into place. In an impressive move, the operator lowered the boom of the crane while holding the sculpture in place. Mere inches were all he had in order to get past the obstruction.
Kelsey, who currently resides in Guthrie, Texas, has been working since 1979 as a full-time artist, and is currently a member of the Cowboy Artists of America. “This is my last monumental piece,” he announced to everyone and no one in particular as the piece was being installed. Later, he backtracked somewhat. Time will tell if this is his last major work or not.
Guenther also pointed out the sculpture garden, which is next to the museum and is open to the public. “We have 19 of the 21 or 22 pieces installed right now,” he said.
The Briscoe Museum has an impressive permanent collection and puts on a number of public events – all in hopes of becoming a primary destination for aficionados of Western art and an accessible mirror into our region’s frontier heritage for the curious visitor.