Each day, nearly 200,000 people traveling the Capital Beltway view Avard T. Fairbanks' Angel Moroni sculpture atop the Washington Temple. During a retrospective exhibit of the sculptor's works at the temple's visitors center that will continue through July, an artist's model of the statute along with other works by the sculptor are on display.
At a reception and preview opening for the exhibit June 14, two of the artist's sons – David Fairbanks, a Washington physician, and Jonathan Fairbanks, the Kathrine Lane Weems American Decorative Arts and Sculpture curator at the Boston Art Museum – reflected on their father's life and work."There was a certain grandeur in how he approached life, with gusto and enthusiasm," Jonathan said in describing his father. "I think he was a person who saw the world in larger terms than his art."
David added, "He was a man who kept the faith with his artwork, he kept the faith with his testimony and he kept the faith with his wife and family."
Avard T. Fairbanks created more than 100 public monuments, served on the faculty of five universities, and created many hundreds of art masterpieces during his sculpting career, spanning 80 years.
Featured in the exhibit are sculptures and artists' models of some of his great monuments, selected religious and historical works, portraits, industrial designs and several of his earliest (boyhood) models. A video presentation of the sculptor at work during his lifetime is available for viewing as well.
On a recent trip to Italy, Jonathan discovered the artist's long lost models of two Brigham Young sculptures. The models – "Brigham Young, Colonizer of the West" and "Brigham Young the Missionary" – were restored and brought to Washington, D.C., for the exhibit.
Radiator hood ornaments – the flying lady for the 1931 Plymouth, the ram for the 1932 Dodge, and the Griffin on the 1933 Essex Terra plane – all designed by Fairbanks – are also included in the exhibit. On the preview night, David Fairbanks brought his own copy of the flying lady hood ornament for display (with the 1931 Plymouth attached).