On June 11, 2015, we were invited to the capitol building in Sacramento for the unveiling of an 8 foot bronze memorial statue of Governor/President Ronald Reagan placed in the lower rotunda. Doug worked on the sculpture for two years with Joann Drake who was Nancy Reagan’s personal assistant and head of the Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, California. The piece was commissioned by the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation and approved by the California Legislature and Governor Brown. Nancy Reagan was unable to travel and attend, but sent a touching letter of appreciation read in the ceremony by Doug Elmets, head of the Centennial Foundation. When the project was proposed by those who wanted to remember and honor President Reagan, it was realized that he was the only Governor who became President who didn’t have a statue in his state capitol. Since Doug had served under President Reagan as his “White House Artist”, he was honored to be asked to create the statue.
A second casting of the same statue was ordered for the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. This statue was unveiled on November 4, 2016, the 25th Anniversary of the Library, in a beautiful ceremony in the Rose Garden where it stands, and a memorable formal luncheon under the wings of Air Force One. Governor Pete Wilson, Secretary George Schultz, head of the Library John Heubusch, Attorney General Edwin Meese, US Archivist David Ferreiro, and Joann Drake were all in attendance along with 200 invited guests as Doug unveiled the statue. The program leading up to the unveiling was a beautiful remembrance of Reagan as portions of some of his speeches were played in his voice between speakers. Doug and Nancy felt privileged to be there, and wished all of you could have been there as well.
Doug has an edition of 100 available of a bronze maquette (smaller version) of the statue for $2500. You can find it in the “People” category, or by clicking here.
A second 8 foot monument of President Reagan was commissioned for The Ridge Golf Course in Auburn, CA. When Doug used to spend time at the White House with the president, his love of the West, and horses was most evident. Doug wanted to portray that side of him along with his presidential presence. In this sculpture he is holding his western hat. Doug has also created a smaller version of this monument that can now be found here in his “People” section which sells also for $2500.
PROJECTS FOR 2017
More recently, Doug has completed an 8 foot monument of his Texas Ranger commissioned for the new Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas, headquarters of the Texas Rangers. It is scheduled to be installed early 2018. His 3 ½ foot Texas Ranger maquette can also be seen here on the website. Doug has always enjoyed working on historical sculptures, researching every detail. This was no different, making sure he had the Model 73 Winchester rifle carried by the Texas Rangers in that period of time.
MORE AFRICAN MEMORIES
Doug and Nancy’s most recent trip to Africa took place in Tanzania in March of 2017. It was Nancy’s 25th African adventure and Doug’s 49th. It was a special trip as always, watching cheetahs and other big cats as they follow the migrations. Doug enjoyed trying to outsmart the elephants at dawn in the Ngorongoro Crater for photographs and videos. The early morning is a special time for game drives to observe and photograph wildlife, as the animals are on the move and the lighting is spectacular.
He plans to celebrate his 50th trip to Africa next year (2018) in September to Botswana. His most favorite African experience is spending time with the elephants at Chobe in Northern Botswana. Elephants have always been Doug’s favorite animals on the planet. He still hopes to complete his large life-size elephant that is 13 feet at the shoulders. In the meantime, he can’t spend enough time with elephants. They inspire him, and it is a priority for him to honor and protect them for future generations to enjoy.
CLOSER TO HOME
Check out the Facebook page for Van Howd Studios. Collector and professional photographer Susan Jorgensen captured a real live deer intermingling with their bronze deer on camera (sculpted by Doug, of course). In the past Susan was awakened at night to hear clanging noises. It was a live buck having a fight with their bronze buck. It attacked and charged until it laid the bronze buck on the ground. Doug just says he tries to create realistic sculptures, and it looks like he has succeeded!
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