Creating Patsy Ann’s Statue
My Bond with Patsy Ann
by ANNA BURKE HARRIS
When I first heard of the effort to honor Patsy Ann, I decided to submit drawings and a proposal to June Dawson (founder of The Friends of Patsy Ann). The importance of this remarkable dog and her story were something I wanted to work out in art.
A maquette is a model of a proposed work. This is a study in clay or plasticine (which I use), proportionate to the final size of work. In Patsy Ann’s case, a little less than half the finished size. First, after sketches and drawings from living dogs (and I have several Bull Terrier couch potatoes! ). I corrected these preliminaries to the proportions of Patsy Ann.
Patsy Ann did not have upright ears, a sin in show Bullies. But I would not have her criticized for this charming eccentricity. And her best photo showed her distinctly overweight from the high living of ship’s cooks.
I knew she was deaf, and deaf animals use their eyes beautifully to compensate for hearing loss. Also, they are alert to movement to a keen degree. And the “down eared” expression of a dog watching the approach of a friend.
I had heard the story of the collar, bought for her and how she insisted a lady of grace and charm need not be burdened by such an indignity. The collar across her feet is homage to the story and to her indomitable spirit and the love of her friends in Juneau.
My ancestry is mixed, with a lot of Indian -Lakota and Cherokee. From these ancestors, who love and respect the earth and all its creatures, came the belief in “Spirit Pieces” — whereby adding a piece of your spirit into the finished work will attain a small bit of immortality.
And thus the bits of fur and hair from those who knew of Patsy Ann. They were honoring their own selves and their beloved animals. These pieces were pressed into the wax before the final bronze casting.
Patsy Ann was sculpted in my studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico and cast at the Shidoni Foundry which is one of the best. Then she was crated up and shipped to Alaska. I asked to have her go part of the way by ship.
I could not get to the statue unveiling but I heard it was a wonderful ceremony. I hope to visit my beloved Juneau lass soon.
– ANNA BURKE HARRIS
Bronze sculptor and artist Anna Burke Harris was a Westerner of mixed ancestry born in Fort Worth. She lived much of her life in New Mexico, where she grew up on a working ranch with an eccentric family of artists and animal breeders.
It seemed appropriate that she was compelled to combine her art with her love of animals. She was both a judge of American and United Kennel Club dog shows and she also bred bull terriers.