Heikka, Earle Erik
|Bronze, edition of 36
15 x 8 x 27.5 inches, Inscribed EE Heikka and dated 1941.
Cast from a commissioned model by C.R. Smith, never cast into bronze before, gifted in 1967 to the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City, OK by C.R. Smith, then deaccessioned through public sale in 1998 along with four other models. These five models are some of the finest original models known to exist by Heikka.
Earl E. Heikka (1910-1941) lived for only thirty-one years, but during those few years he created over two hundred pieces of art that today stand as some of the best sculpture of life and work in the American West.
Heikka takes his place among the great sculptors of the region.
In the tradition of C.M. Russell and Frederic Remington, Heikka observed a passing era and depicted the products of that world in both heroic and human terms.
The young boy from Great Falls, Montana, used his unusual talent to model cowboys in action and taking their ease, pack trains bringing in the bounties of a hunt, and scenes from Butte's deep mines.
He created magnificent sculptures of western characters- vigilantes, country doctors, and riders for the Pony Express- many now on exhibit at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.
When he was only nineteen years old, Heikka attracted the attention of William A. Clark III, the grandson of Butte copper king W.A. Clark.
With Clark as his patron, Heikka began to achieve some recognition.
His first exhibit outside Montana was in Los Angeles in 1931; two years later his work was shown at the Chicago Exposition.
With men like Marshall Field, Gary Cooper, and Con Kelley commissioning his work, Heikka's career seemed assured.
But then on May 18, 1941, the young artist killed himself, ending his short but brilliant career.
Fortunately, Heikka has left a legacy to all lovers of the West and western art, a collection of wonderfully detailed models that preserve the scenes and the emotions of Montana's early years.