By Carmen Summerfield
Pat Garley has been designing and producing statues, plaques and trophies at his Palmer studio, Arctic Fires Bronze, since 2000. He works mainly with bronze, but has cast a variety of items in iron and aluminum.
A few years ago, Pat was commissioned by the Seward Iditarod Trailblazers Association to create a life-sized bronze statue of a gold prospector and his dog, which is permanently on display outside the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward.
And recently, the Iditarod Trail Committee selected Pat to create the Iditarod Winner’s Trophy.
The Iditarod Trail, as originally planned in 1908, started in Seward and ended in Nome. In the first decade of the 20th Century, thousands of gold-seekers traveled this route to the Iditarod goldfields, and gold-carrying sled dog teams became a regular sight on the trail. But by the 1920’s the stampede for gold was over, and the construction of new rail lines resulted in the Iditarod Trail falling into disuse.
In 1967, during the 100th anniversary of America's purchase of Alaska from Russia, Joe Redington Sr. and Dorothy Page decided to help revive and re-energize the sport of mushing in Alaska. The Iditarod trail seemed ideal for a spectacular dog race to wake Alaskans up to what mushers and their dogs had done for Alaska.
In the years since that first 50-mile centennial race, the Iditarod has grown into Alaska's greatest sporting spectacle—the 1049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome known around the world as "The Last Great Race on Earth".
Pat’s Iditarod Winner’s Trophy, a 97-pound bronze masterpiece, features Redington and his lead dog Feets under the Burled Arch in Nome. Pat’s design is based on sketches from Bill Devine, and recreates Redington’s signature from one of his race bibs.
“It’s an honor to be able to make this trophy,” said Pat. “I don’t mush, so this is my way to get to be a part of the Iditarod.”
In recognition of his skill and accomplishments, Pat received the prestigious Governor’s Award for Individual Artist. Congratulations, Pat!
To see more of Pat’s work, or to see Pat actually casting metal, come to Art on Fire, an outdoor iron casting event at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry on Saturday, June 25. More info can be found at www.ValleyArtsAlliance.com.