Dinosaurs, Leprechans, Gargoyles and Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall JacksonA new fiberglass statue to Stonewall Jackson has recently been added to Lexington, Virginia’s commemorative landscape.  The sculpture by local artist, Mark Cline, is situated on private property just north of Lexington on Rt. 11.  Cline is best known for his fiberglass sculptures of fantasy creatures and dinosaurs that adorn parks across the country.  Among his best known work is a life sized reproduction of Stonehenge made out of Styrofoam. Some of you might be aware of Escape From Dinosaur Kingdom, which is located at Natural Bridge in the Shenandoah Valley and depicts dinosaurs attacking Yankee soldiers.

It is fitting that Cline was given this commission given the larger than life world that Jackson occupies in our collective imagination. I absolutely love it. It’s playful, but somehow still respectful of Jackson.  Unfortunately, I can’t locate a photograph that does justice to it. [see here and here]  Hopefully, we will have access to some better quality photos soon.  Kudos to the SCV chapter in Lexington for their aesthetic judgment.

9 comments… add one

  • Jonathan Mahaffey May 13, 2013

    You have to admit, it looks like it would pair quite well with the equestrian statue of Forrest that is outside of Nashville. (I don’t see anything about either statue on Mr. Cline’s website, so I don’t know if he did both or if it is just coincidence.) There is something cartoonish about both statues; I don’t know if that is reflective of the skills of the sculptors the SCV can afford or if it is an inherent limitation of the fiberglass medium versus good old-fashioned stone or bronze.

    • Kevin Levin May 13, 2013

      The Jackson statue was just completed so his website will likely be updated at some point down the road. I think this is step up from the Forrest statue in Nashville. I am being honest when I say that I like it. It’s different (a folk artistic quality) and much more approachable compared with the traditional stone and bronze approach.

      • Jonathan Mahaffey May 14, 2013

        Given your praise, I went back and give it a second look and I have to admit it doesn’t bother me as much as it did yesterday. You’re right about it having a folk artistic quality, so perhaps it was unfair of me to be comparing it to the stone and metal Civil War monuments I more used to seeing. Sometimes it just takes me a little while to get used to change!

        You mentioned in the original post that the pictures you linked to don’t do the statue justice; have you had a chance to view it in person?

        • Kevin Levin May 14, 2013

          I knew you would come around. :-) Still would like to see some better quality pics.

          Kind of hard when you live in Boston.

  • DudeG May 13, 2013

    It looks like a plastic Civil War toy soldier (but big, obviously). That’s definitely approachable.

  • Mark Cline May 16, 2013

    Most of the figures I build are for theme parks or tourist attractions . In this case, Stonewall was meant to be seen while driving down the road at 55 mph. It was not really meant to be a Michaelangelo in fact ,it’s not really intended to be a “monument” to the man but more of what he stood for. Jackson was an upstanding citizen and soldier who upheld Christian beliefs. I could have “bronzed” or “stoned” it, but I wanted it to stand out from a distance. While I believe the astetics and likeness of such a statue is indeed important, statues themselves represent beliefs. If we were to take the bronze of Stonewall at Manassas seriously, we’d think he looked like Mr. Universe when in fact, the impression is clearly to represent a strong and proud effort by the south during the war.

    • Kevin Levin May 16, 2013

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for offering a bit more background on your Jackson figure. I will keep an eye out for it next time I am in the area. BTW, do you happen to have a clear photograph that you can share? Best of luck to you and thanks again.

      • Mark Cline May 17, 2013

        Kevin
        When we were installing the piece there were several photographers snapping photos. Some where professional and others where from a photo club. They probably have some crisp work. I don’t know what they intend to do with the photos. I’ll certainly ask.
        As for the Forrest sculpture, no it’s not mine. It is indeed different! When I build something, either I or the customer chooses for it to be whimsical or realalistic, yet when it comes to “art” everyone is an expert and a judge. Generally, one either likes it or doesn’t. There is also a kinda stigma associated with fiberglass statues almost like they are not “real” or just an immitation. When an artist takes on a project which generates emotion, he must be prepared to take on every form of critisism as well as the compliments. When I played Jackson in Lime Kiln theater’s “Stonewall Country” a couple years ago, one of my lines ( and Jackson quote was) ” It is upon images and not upon truth that man base their actions”

  • Harry McNeer Oct 25, 2013

    The statue looks somewhat gaudy and reminds me of a statue you can see in a theme park, and certainly not worthy of this great American.
    I also find it somewhat disturbing when people try to rewrite history:

    “I find it interesting that many authors and others today try to rewrite history when they have no viable proof of what they are talking about, and it’s as if they were there.
    For example, Mr. …….. claims that Stonewall Jackson never wore the type of hat depicted in his statue at VMI. Well, there are period accounts of eyewitnesses of him wearing just such a (slouch) hat. In the book, _Make Me a Map of the Valley_ which was the Civil War journal of Stonewall’s topographer, Jedediah Hotchkiss, it explains in a couple of places where Stonewall sent him into town to buy just such a hat. This was before the Battle of Sharpsburg. Also in the poem, “Stonewall Jackson’s Way,” discovered on a dead Confederate soldier, it tells of the slouch hat Stonewall wore. I’m not sure where Mr. ……… got his “facts” from, but such a claim is disconcerting to be sure. It taints the rest of the book.
    I am in the Stonewall Jackson family bloodline and thusly a genealogical member the Jackson Brigade, Inc. Last year we held our reunion in Lexington, VA and learned much more interesting information about this very complex man.
    I only wish authors would do more thorough research into their subject and leave their opinions out of it.
    As American historians, Will and Ariel Durant once said, “History is mostly guessing. The rest is prejudice.”

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