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Bronze statue of Hayden Fry to be unveiled at FRYfest

Kalona couple recreates Hawkeye coach in detail

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Waist size. Length of nose. Width across shoulders. Height of ear.

Those are just a few of the many dimensions of legendary Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry his wife sent to sculptors Doris Park and Stephen Maxon as they prepared to recreate Fry in bronze.

The husband-wife artist team own Max-Cast, a sculpture and foundry studio in Kalona, and are responsible for recognizable projects across the region, including an Irving B. Weber statue tipping his hat to visitors on the corner of Iowa Avenue and Linn Streets in Iowa City.

“It’s kind of a peculiar business. If you need a statue or need something cast, we’re the people who can do it,” Park said.

Early this year, the City of Coralville commissioned them to create a bronze statue of Fry that will stand in front of the Coralville Convention and Visitor Bureau, 900 First Ave. The statue will be unveiled at 10:30 a.m. Friday during FRYfest at the Coralville Marriott and Convention Center, 300 E. Ninth St. The statue cost approximately $36,000 and was funded from Coralville’s hotel/motel tax.

Read more: Everything you need to know for FRYfest 2016

Park gave a tour of the Kalona studio Wednesday, explaining the process of turning some 500 pounds of bronze into a likeness of a Hawkeye hero.

They started in February and finished just in time to deliver the statue to the Marriott for the unveiling. Along with Fry’s dimensions, they studied photographs of him and even met with him, all in an attempt to better capture his spirit. The pose they decided on, hands on hip, staring intently forward, was meant to evoke that spirit.

“It’s supposed to represent him on the sidelines as a coach watching the football game in play,” Park said. “He has a very intent look, he’s serious, he’s watching everything very closely, and he’s kind of an intense person.”

Park and Maxson created a model-size of the sculpture to be approved by the city and then made a life-size version of clay over Styrofoam, carefully carving his facial features, Hawkeye sweat shirt and hat and signature aviator sunglasses.

They also made a point to track down photos of the rare times he wasn’t wearing the sunglasses.

“I’m always concerned about capturing the character of the person,” Park said. “In Hayden’s case, it was still important to put eyes behind the glasses — it just doesn’t seem right to leave that blank.”

The artists used a method called “lost wax” to create molds from the clay carving, eventually melting down bronze ingots at about 2,200 degrees to make the statue. The method has been around in one form or another for more than 5,000 years -it dates to the Bronze Age. Park said she likes feeling that connection to history.

“I like the complexity, it intrigues me. Every step is complicated, every step you have to have a different skill,” she said. “It’s fun to do things like this — it’s a very permanent medium. Your artwork is pretty much put into this eternal form.”

She laughed. “And pouring molten metal is cool, too.”

She and Maxson opened the Kalona studio in 1988, and most of the statues they’ve done have been of dead people — this is the first time their subject will get to critique their work in person.

“It’s a little bit peculiar,” Park said. “I’m a little bit nervous. Hayden will be at the unveiling Friday, and gee, I hope he likes it.”

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