By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A new resident of Havre moved next to the Town Square at the start of Festival Days: a 9-foot-long, 6-foot-tall, 2,000-pound metal bison.
Local sculptor Cory Holmes made the bison for Bear Paw Credit Union. It was placed on the credit union's property, near the credit union's ATM.
Holmes said he completed two years of work on the sculpture last Friday, just in time for Festival Days.
"I finished work on it at 4:45 a.m.," he said.
The bison is the first installment of three metal sculptures Bear Paw Credit Union commissioned Holmes to create for the property. Holmes said he and the credit union agreed not to disclose what the next sculpture will be.
"They said they want to hold our cards over our chest on this. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," Holmes said.
Holmes has gained some local fame over the last few years with sculptures of insects and spiders and by making art that he and others have placed on fence posts around Montana - an effort he said has gone national and international.
"They're in about 19 states now and two provinces of Canada," he said.
April Biamonte, a vice president at Bear Paw Credit Union, said the people at her business are happy with how the bison turned out.
"We are absolutely amazed with what he did," she said. "How can you not be impressed?"
The quality of the bison is the result of extensive research and countless hours of work. Holmes traveled around the state to look at and photograph bison so he could make it as accurate as possible.
"I've been to many buffalo herds and I have done extensive research," he said.
The bison is built to the average dimensions of a 12-year-old bull, Holmes added.
He built a skeleton out of old oil and gas pipeline pipe from north-central Montana, then constructed the rest of the sculpture around it.
Holmes used machine-gun links to make the bison's mane and the hair on its chin and legs. He bought the links from someone who had accumulated them.
"There are about 150,000 machine gun links," he said.
The skin consists of three layers of metal. For the bison's hair, he used telegraph wire, bending a kink into each inch of wire.
"There's 3 miles of 100-year-old telegraph wires, so how many hours of conversation was that?" he asked.
Baiamonte said the credit union had planned to landscape the area by its automated teller machine for several years. Larry Adams, whose Badlands Landscaping did the landscaping for the Town Square, and Holmes approached Bear Paw Credit Union about using metal sculptures, she said.
The idea appealed to the credit union, she said, especially because the theme tied into the Town Square.
Holmes said that in addition to the Bear Paw Credit Union sculptures, he is continuing to make his fence art and his bug sculptures.
The fence art was a result of the work on the bison - Holmes said he started making them out of scrap metal he had to clear a space for the large sculpture.
The bug sculpting is connected to the bison as well. There is a metal spider, 12 inches across, inside the bison.
"I guess it's just the kid in me," Holmes said.
On the Net: Cory Holmes art photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/iamasculptor