Fallen Heroes Project

pic1

Sculptor Ken Bjorge stands beside the first
bronze in the Fallen Heros Project.

pic2

This desktop sized work is now available in limited edition. A $4,700. or greater donation to the Soldiers Memorial Fund will can reserve one of these sculptures for you or your company.

pic3

A 1/2 life sized version of this sculpture will be presented to the White House early in 2006.

pic4

The day was perfect for a BBQ by the Lake
and the Flathead Lake Lodge provided the beautiful setting and some mighty fine food.

pic5

The statue depicts a male and female soldier giving a small girl a teddy bear. The inspiration came from an email sent to Paul Vallely.

 

pic6

A 1.5 times life sized statue will be created and placed in a Memorial Park and Garden on the shores of Flathead Lake in Bigfork, Montana

pic7

The Bigfork community is famous for stepping up to support a worthy cause and the Soldiers Memorial Fund is certainly worthy of all the support we can give it.

Ken Bjorge Creates Sculpture For
Fallen Heroes Project

Article From The Lakeshore Country Journal
June 16th 2005 by Jim Jackson

It was 1988 when Ken Bjorge relocated to Bigfork from Spokane, WA. It was a bold move because he was not only changing locations but careers. Previously Ken had been a law professor at Gonzaga University. Here in Bigfork, Ken intended to live his dream to be a sculptor. When I started the Lakeshore Country Journal in 1992, Ken was one of the first artists that I wrote about. His story was compelling and the work he was creating was clearly being made with a loving heart and mind.
Now, more than 15 years later, Ken’s words to me at the end of our recent interview were right on target and rang as true as if he had said them years ago. "Each day I am grateful and appreciative of the fact that my mind and my hands are living out a dream." Ken did his first larger than life sized piece in 1991 and did about one per year until about four years ago. "I started getting commissions for monumental sized pieces at the rate of four a year and it’s been going like that ever since."

Ken told me that he loves the challenge involved in creating a larger than life sized piece. "When you make something larger than life, there is more to the process than just making all the parts larger. There is a mechanical side to the process but there is also an artistic perception that must be considered. It can be very difficult to find the right look and feel for a large piece. Sometimes you have to put the mechanical aspect off to the side and just work from what you know looks right to your eye."
Many of Ken’s first monumental sized pieces involved wildlife. He created a pair of large mountain lions for the entrance to a development in southern California. The first human form he did was a statue of Saint Francis for a school in Arizona. "I loved the challenge of getting the human form right, and after that first piece, the commissions for larger than life people started gaining momentum. When a group of alumni from the University of Washington contacted me about doing a sculpture of their beloved coach Jim Owens, I was thrilled. Jim lives here in Bigfork and working with him on the project was a wonderful blessing."

Ken just finished a larger than life sized sculpture of Earl Campbell, the Heisman trophy winner and NFL great for the University of Texas. He has also completed a 1.25 times size mountain lion for a residence in Whitefish at the Lion Mountain development and is currently in the final stages of creating a 12 foot tall elk for the entrance to a development on the east shore of Flathead Lake. "This is hard work, and both physically and mentally challenging, but I love it, there is nothing else I would rather do."

I asked Ken about his latest project, the Fallen Heroes of the Global War on Terror. "A while back I had some people from South Carolina in the gallery. At the time I was working on the big elk and they were very interested in my monumental sized pieces. They said that they had been thinking about commissioning a sculpture to honor the veterans in their area and asked me about creating a contemporary piece that would honor our country’s more recent veterans. I needed to find out more about the look and feel of the modern soldier.

The first person who came to mind was Paul Vallely, the retired U.S. Army Major General and Fox News military analyst who moved to Bigfork a few years ago. I knew Paul from John Creamer's Bible study, so I called him and arranged a lunch date so that I could pick his brain and learn more about our current soldiers in the struggle against global terror. When we met for lunch, the first thing Paul asked me was if I would be interested in creating a piece for a fallen heroes project that he had been thinking about. I was very touched by the idea and felt exactly as he did that it was important to honor those who have already paid the ultimate price for our freedom from this newest threat to our life and liberty."

Just before Memorial Day Iwrote an article about the Soldiers Memorial Fund that was established in memory of their son Scott. The Fallen Heroes project is a direct result of Paul and Muffin's dedication to keeping their son's memory alive through the work of this fund.

Paul and Ken collaborated on the design of the piece and came up with the idea of a sculpture with three figures, based on an email that Paul read at Bible study one Friday morning. "The story of the Iraqi girl with a teddy bear touched our hearts and made us realize that there are many sides to this struggle and many kinds of heroes in any war. From that point on, the energy from Paul and Muffin Vallely just flowed into the project and it quickly gained momentum."

"It has been an honor and privilege to work with the Vallelys on this project. Paul is a soft spoken leader with tremendous energy; he has traveled all over the world and is so knowledgeable about the global threat that we are facing and the important work being done by our military in so many places around the world. Muffin can only be described as a great lady with tremendous strength and courage who quietly gets things done regardless of how daunting the task might be."

The model for the Fallen Heroes Project was unveiled at the Memorial Day BBQ just a couple of weeks ago. Next up in the project is either the 1/2 life sized piece to be presented to President Bush for placement at the White House or the 1.5 times life sized piece that will be placed here in Bigfork. "Paul and Muffin are currently working out the details for the next step in the project and once they determine what that step is, I will go to work on it. It is such an honor to be working on a project of this nature. Regardless of how a person might feel about the global war on terror, we must honor those brave soldiers who step up to serve their country and preserve our precious freedoms. It is right that we do this sooner rather than later. Our soldiers deserve to be recognized for their sacrifice and to be honored by those of us who continue to enjoy the freedoms they protect and defend every day."

Congratulations to Ken on this monumental project and also to Paul and Muffin Vallely and the many supporters and volunteers who continue to work for and support the Scott Vallely Soldiers Memorial Fund. It is wonderful and amazing that our little community here in Montana should be the focal point for such an important and inspiring endeavor. If you would like to learn more about this project or the work of the Soldiers Memorial Fund, you can visit their web site at www.soldiersmemorialfund.org. Donations for the project can be sent to the address you will find on the web site.