Thirty years after its original unveiling, the spirit of John Wayne as captured in wax by Glen Rose artist Robert Summers, is coming home.
The White Buffalo Gallery downtown will be the new permanent location of Summer’s monumental work. It has resided at the Hoka Hey Foundry near Dublin for three decades.
The sculpture measures nine-and-a-half feet tall and was initially unveiled in Glen Rose in 1981. Then it was cast in bronze at Hoka Hey and transported to the airport in Orange County, California.
In June 1979 the Orange County Board of Supervisors had renamed the airport to honor John Wayne, who died that month. Summers was commissioned to cast a bronze statue of “The Duke” to commemorate the late actor and American patriot.
The statue was decide in 1982 and placed outside an airport terminal. After a new terminal was built, the statue was refinished and restored and moved to the lobby of the new terminal.
The second unveiling in Glen Rose is set for 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, at the White Buffalo.
A reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m.
The event also features new works by Summers, Texas wildlife artist Robert Fobear and Native American portraits by Sherry Harrington. The featured artists’ work will be on display at the gallery through Nov. 25.
The Reporter was present when Summers, his sons Temple and Trent and other family members and friends helped load and transport the sculpture from Hoka Key to Glen Rose. The work had to be taken apart. The Duke’s headless torso road in the back of Summers’ pick-up truck - carefully packed, of course. One wonders what other travelers thought when passing the truck on the highway.
The Duke’s hands, gun, gun belt and other pieces were packed into boxes. The sculpture then had to be reassembled in Summers’ studio and imperfections were repaired.
Summers recounted how he and his team worked around-the-clock to ready the sculpture before it was shipped to California. Summers worked closely with the Wayne family.
He recalled that when Wayne’s son Patrick saw the sculpture, he gave Summers the best compliment he could have hoped for: “This is the first time I have seen my father since he died,” Patrick Wayne said.