Outlaw, a Brahma-longhorn bull, is a legend at the Calgary Stampede. Fifty-seven cowboys in a row tried riding him for eight seconds, and 57 cowboys failed. Staying on Outlaw was such a daunting task that rodeo organizers made him a "bounty bull," meaning the first rider to hold on would get a special payout . As more riders failed, the payout grew. By the time 21-year-old Justin Volz successfully rode the bull at the Stampede in 2003, the bounty was up to $50,000. On Thursday, a bronze replica of Outlaw, kicking up his hindquarters and scowling, snout flared, cut an imposing figure in Art Casting of Montana's unadorned studio in Belgrade. From the tip of its steel-reinforced tail to the base, the bronze sculpture stands 11 feet tall. It weighs 1,123 pounds, shy of the 1,799 pounds Outlaw weighed in flesh and blood. A few hours before flying home to Regina, Saskatchewan, Thursday, sculptor Richard Loffler surveyed the giant bronze and took photos. "A lot of people were involved in this," Loffler said. "We didn't just want a bucking bull. We wanted Outlaw." Lof f ler was commissioned by Calgary's financial community and the Calgary Stampede to make the sculpture, which will be placed in Calgary's financial district, similar to the "Charging Bull" near Wall Street in New York's financial district. "The vision was to create an iconic bronze sculpture in the heart of downtown Calgary, which represents our energy and optimism, acknowledges our heritage, and present the city as a rising financial centre," according to a press release from the Calgary CFA Society, a trade group for investors. On the floor of the Calgary exchange, the hot commodity is oil, pumped from the sands of eastern Alberta. And amidst a bearish world economy, Calgary has faired well recently. "Richard absolutely captured what we wanted — the strength, the power captured in a bull market," said Georgia Desmarai s, a member of the Stampede's public art committee. But while Loffler lives in Saskatchewan and his bronze is Alberta-bound, he chose to do his work at the foundry in Belgrade. For the whole month of July, Loffler sculpted clay in the form the bronze would eventually take. Then the craftsmen of the Belgrade foundry took over, creating silicon molds that can withstand 2,300-degree molten bronze. The bull was so big that the foundry had to cast 84 different pieces, which were then welded together to create a seamless sculpture. A rodeo fan familiar with stock animals, Loffler was careful about how he depicted the bull. He insisted that Outlaw have a bucking strap around his torso, just like he would have in the arena. "There's no reason for him to be bucking if he doesn't have that bucking strap," he said. Asked why he picked Belgrade for the project, Loffler said the foundry is "very, very good." "I like people who keep trying to learn to do things better," he said. "This foundry does that." Gary Turner, owner of Art Casters of Montana, called Loffler a friend, and said he was excited by the exposure the statue would have in downtown Calgary. "This will be viewed by literally millions of people a year. That's pretty cool," he said. This year, the Stampede will also pay homage to Outlaw on its poster, according to the Calgary Herald. It was painted, incidentally, by Don Oelze, an artist who lives just outside Helena. The Stampede is the world's largest outdoor rodeo, drawing as many as 1.2 million people in year. Outlaw, a red-and-white speckled bull, died in 2004, Desmarais said, when he was gored by another bull.
Bronze of famed rodeo bull cast in Montana
Published: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
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