Timelaspe: Master Sculptor Sabin Howard and his team assemble one of the panels of the National WWI Monument which is to be unveiled in Washington DC.

In Englewood, America's World War I monument gets its crowning touch

By Jim Beckerman
via the Daily Record newspaper (NJ) web site

The worst thing, for any commander, is to lose a soldier.

Even if the soldier is 6 feet, 8 inches tall, 300 pounds, and made of clay.

"I feel sick, but I've got to lead the team," said master sculptor Sabin Howard, who on Monday had to undergo an ordeal he's already been through several times. One of his sculptures was being moved.

A plasteline clay figure, of a shellshocked soldier, was hoisted off its mounting by a small, hand-operated crane.

Then, as Howard supervised — and held his breath — assistants Charlie Mostow (himself a sculptor), Amari Stephen, Matthew Todorov and Ricky Zambrano (all artists' models) gently, gently maneuvered the piece into place as part of what will be a 58-foot-long, 10-foot high tableau, with 38 figures.

"A Soldier's Journey," it's called — America's World War I monument, set to be unveiled in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., in May 2024.

One false move, and the clay figure he's spent 1,500 hours sculpting in his Englewood studio could crack. For a sculptor, that's a disaster equivalent to Gallipoli, or the Somme.

"I'm going into battle," Howard said. "It's a critical moment. If I lose a sculpture, it's a tragedy." 

Never surrender

How went the day? Victory — this time.

"Hold it," said Mostow, as the team fitted the soldier figure into place among a grouping of other figures that included a screaming soldier pinioned in the arms of a nurse, and two buddies arm in arm trudging through the mire.

As the team jockeyed the figure into his position, Howard's wife, Traci L. Slatton, an author and filmmaker, and producer Kathleen Glynn captured it all on camera for a documentary they are titling "Heroic: Sabin Howard sculpts the National World War I Memorial."

"Good, no damage," Mostow said, as the figure was clamped into place.

Read the entire article on the Daily Record web site.

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