The Late Sculptor, Jim Brothers

(Frank) We are back again. Well we seem to be talking about a lot of statues today, and we’ve got a lot of them and a lot of new ones going up too. (Deb) Well I had the privilege of speaking in June at the dedication of the newest statue in Gage Park here in Topeka, and that’s Homage. So that is a war memorial and it’s a statue of a soldier, it is magnificent, done by Jim Brothers. When I arrived, I had actually been in Smith Center that morning for filming a Home on the Range documentary. I got up at the crack of dawn to be in Topeka in time to speak to this. When I arrived, I was blown way because everything was already in place. It was overwhelming Frank. It was all I could do to keep my composure. Then you’ve got the pipe and drums from the police department, you’ve got the marshal band and you’ve got all these veterans there. The man who introduced me that day was John Musgrave and if you go back in our archives you’ll find the interview I did with John at the Combat Air Museum when the Vietnam Wall was visiting, the Travelling Wall. John is a hero in every sense of the word and I was really humbled to be introduced by him and to share the podium with him and Chaplin Reyes Rodriguez who was also a veteran and it was just wonderful. You’ve got to go to Gage Park and see this newest statue. You were talking about the Eagle there. (Frank) No, the Eagle that’s there. It used be over by 6th Street. Well, 6th Street at one time was Highway 40 and Highway 40 was the victory highway, which was in honor of World War One Veterans. It got moved over to what has now become a veteran’s memorial in Gage Park at 10th and Gage. (Deb) That little corner over the park right there at 10th and Gage is where the Homage statue was dedicated and so there are bricks honoring some of the veterans and it’s just beautiful. It’s a beautiful setting; it’s really appropriate right there. Guilford Gage, for whom the park is named, was a Civil War veteran himself. He served in the Battle of the Blue and was captured there. The monument at Topeka Cemetery of the soldier is one that he personally bought and paid for to honor his comrades in the Battle of the Blue so Gage Park is a really fitting place for this memorial. When you come to Topeka or if you already live here or live in the vicinity, this is something you’ve got to bring your kids to see. It’s really beautiful. Let’s talk a little bit about the artist that created this, Jim Brothers. Jim Brothers passed away in 2013. But if a man can achieve immortality through his work, surely Jim is immortal. Perhaps Jim is best known for two projects — creating a sculpture of Dwight Eisenhower that’s on display at the Capitol in Washington and as the chief sculptor for the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. The small Virginia town lost more men per capita than any in the nation during World War II, and the sculpture contains twelve monumental bronzes. He did figures of Mark Twain and of John Brown as a Jayhawk. Some of his figures stepped from the pages of history; others he imagined. Paul Dorrell who represented Jim’s art, told a reporter, I saw that Jim had an ability to communicate raw emotion in bronze that I had never encountered in a regional artist. Kathy, his wife and manager, said he was a professional until the end and completed his last work only days before his death, and commented on how hard he researched to know his subjects. Viet Nam Vet John Musgrave became his friend, called him brother. When Jim’s work, Homage, a bronze of a soldier, was dedicated in Topeka’s Gage Park, John spoke admiringly of his friend and his friend’s work. Jim’s talent extended to music and he was a founding member of the Alferd Packer Memorial Band. The unconventional group took their name from the legendary western cannibal. Jim’s legacy is profound, beautiful and communicates the soul of Kansas to the world. Yes, surely he is immortal.

(Frank) Well, we’ve got to go again. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

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