Welcome back funny names fans!
We interrupt this post for an announcement . . . I am busting to tell you about some good news. I received word over the weekend that my book proposal for dementia home care was accepted.
*Fannie does a happy dance and blows a party horn.*
Thanks for taking the time to celebrate with me.
Now back to our regularly scheduled post.
John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum commonly known as Gutzon Borglum, was an artist and sculptor with a pretty darn good name.
He was born on March 25, 1867 the son of Danish immigrants, His Mormon father, Jens Moller Haugaard Borglum, in a polygamist marriage to his mother, Christina Mikkelsen Borglum. Christina’s sister, Ida, was Jens first wife. They lived in Idaho where polygamy was legal at the time. Do you imagine there may have been some friction in the family?
Jens decide to leave Mormonism and moved the family to Omaha, Nebraska, where polygamy was illegal and highly frowned on. So Jens divorced Ida, stayed with Christina, and took Ida’s two kids as well as Gutzon and his brother, Solon.
Jens got a degree in medicine, then moved the family to Freemont, Nebraska, where Jens establish his practice. Gutzon remained there until 1882 when his father enrolled him in St. Mary’s College in Kansas.
Gutzon only lasted a short time at St. Mary’s. He dropped out. He found himself back in Nebraska, because he was not in Kansas anymore, and apprenticed himself to a machine shop where he worked his way through Creighton Preparatory School. From there he pursued his artistic interest at a myriad of schools, Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, Académie Julian, École des Beaux-Arts and California School of Design. His talent grew and his reputation emerged for being a domineering, perfectionist and authoritarian.
In the midst of all this he romanced and married one of his art instructors, Elizabeth Janes Putnam—19 years his senior. They spent the next ten years traveling Europe studying art and exhibiting their craft. They returned to the U.S. and purchased a home in California. Because of a bad economy in California, they returned to Europe. Due to some marital issues, Elizabeth left Europe and moved back to their home in California. They divorced in 1908.
Gutzon then married Mary Montgomery Williams Borglum in 1916. It must have gone well because they sired three children together.
After several successes as a sculptor, Gutzon was tapped to work on the Mount Rushmore project in 1927. Perhaps perfectionism was the key to his getting the job. The original plan for the monument was for Washington and Jefferson. The first attempt at Jefferson’s face blew up only two years into the project. I suspect dynamite may have played a role. Dynamite was also used to removed rock from underneath Washington’s epic brow. The project soon expanded, not to be confused with exploded, to include Lincoln and Roosevelt.
For the first seven years, Ivan Houser was Gutzon’s assistant sculptor. Houser moved on to pursue his own artistic endeavors without Gutzon. Gutzon’s son, Lincoln, stepped up to the post in 1934 and helped his father with the project until Gutzon’s death in 1941. Lincoln finished the last of the work his father had directed prior to passing then left the rest of the project incomplete.
So the next time you visit Mount Rushmore thank Gutzon because of an idea that was spawn and on the mountain was drawn to create the faces that glisten white at dawn because of his artistic use of dynamite brawn.
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