$400k bronze Cougar set to shine at Martin

PULLMAN -- World-renowned artist Chester Fields hopes to unveil a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of a Cougar – weighing more than 4,500 pounds – in front of Martin Stadium in time for the football game against Arizona on Nov. 8.

The Cougar will be two and a half times larger than life and will be descending a rock at a 30-degree angle with its back 14 feet off the ground. The sculpture will sit on a pedestal near the new Stadium Way entrance, roughly where the old Butch's cage used to be located.

Fields, who painted the famous "Cougar Country" portrait that hangs inside WSU's Lewis Alumni Centre, is a wildlife artist best known for his bronze sculptures of eagles. He recently created two 18-foot eagles for August Busch III and his work is on display all over the world. His client list includes the likes of Greg Norman, Kristi Yamaguchi and the Sultan of Brunei.

The Cougar sculpture, produced in conjunction with phases I and II of the Martin Stadium renovation project, is being paid for by a single anonymous donor and is estimated to cost $400,000. The sculpture is a joint project between Fields and his son Mike.

It is shaping up to be spectacular.

"This will be the place where ABC and ESPN will open their shows before football games," senior associate athletic director John Johnson said. "It will be the place where all the graduation pictures are taken. We're so lucky to have an artist the caliber of Chester Fields to take our vision and capture it in bronze."

Fields and son have been working seven days a week for the last three months on the project in Troutdale, Ore. The Cougar is currently in clay form and they hope to begin the three-month casting process in Joseph, Ore. by July 20.

"We're excited about the project and have really enjoyed working with all the people at WSU," Fields said. "We're using new computer technology and have already been working on it for three months."

Mike Fields created the original computer rendering of the Cougar using new high definition technology designed for the movie industry.

"We modified it three times until everyone was satisfied," the younger Fields said. "The donor didn't want the Cougar to appear too aggressive. So it's intense and has a presence, but is not overly aggressive."

Smaller versions of the sculpture will be available for purchase, including four artist proof editions and 20 elite editions that will be approximately half-sized or about three feet tall. Bronze 18-inch and 10-inch versions will also be for sale and there may also be an 8- inch nickel composite version available.

The contract for the smaller versions hasn't been finalized, but a significant portion of the proceeds will benefit Cougar athletics and could generate more than the cost of the project.

Chester Fields, who lives in the Spokane Valley, was born in the The Dalles, Ore. in 1945. His monuments cost as much as $850,000 and his eagles are on display all over the world. To see more of his work, click to www.chesterfieldsbronzes.com.

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