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David Adickes

David Adickes is a talented artist who has never forgotten his roots. Adickes was born and educated in Huntsville and it is the city he chose for his best-known work--the 67-foot Sam Houston statue A Tribute to Courage, the world's tallest statue of an American hero.

Adickes is an artist who didn't study art--at least at first. After attending Huntsville High School, Adickes received a bachelor of science degree in math and physics from Sam Houston State in 1948. Only then did he turn to art, spending a summer at the Kansas City Art Institute and two years in Paris at the Atelier Fernand Leger.

He returned briefly to Houston, in 1951, but was soon off to Paris, Barcelona and Tahiti, painting and exhibiting his works in Houston and other cities. After a two year teaching position in the Art Department at the University of Texas, in 1957 he lived for a year in Japan and traveled extensively for the next 10 years in the Far East, Mid East, Europe, Russia and North Africa. 

"The world was my studio," he says. Exhibitions during this time included shows in Tokyo, Osaka, New York, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, and St. Paul-de-Vence. In Texas there were exhibitions in Ft. Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio, as well as Houston. The 1983 unveiling of The Virtuoso, a 36-foot concrete sculpture in downtown Houston, represented a major shift in artistic endeavors.

While continuing to paint on a limited basis, Adickes turned his attention to large outdoor sculpture. The one he chose for his home town, as a tribute to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sam Houston, is seen by thousands as they travel Interstate 45 on the southern edge of Huntsville.

In 1989 Adickes began work on The Winds of Change--an eight-foot bronze of George Bush. Originally unveiled at the 1992 Republican Convention in Houston, the statue was presented to Houston's Intercontinental Airport when the facility was officially renamed for the former president.

Adickes's latest project is as incredible as the story of his personal growth as an artist--colossal-sized busts (8 to 12 feet tall) of all 41 presidents, which will make up a walk-through theme park in Williamsburg, Va.

Adickes calls it a "Mt. Rushmore on the ground." One bust, that of Andrew Jackson, is on display just outside the Museum of Art in Jackson, Miss.

Now 71, he says he would like to complete a 90-foot statue of George Washington, which he envisions as overlooking Yorktown, where Washington defeated Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War.

As profiled at the October 30, 1998 Distinguished Alumni Banquet


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