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Spirit of the Broncos

man works on piece of metal in studio, with enormous steel bronco sculpture held by harness
Francis Fox, professor of sculpture in the School of the Arts, restores the “Spirit of the Broncos” sculpture by Alfred Kober, photo by Priscilla Grover

This beloved artwork became a campus symbol when it was commissioned by former university President John Barnes, and erected in 1970 by artist Alfred Kober (1937-2022). Kober was a faculty member in the Department of Art, Design and Visual Studies from 1968 to 1999.

Over the last 52 years, this sculpture was decoratively wrapped as part of art portfolios, had its hooves rubbed smooth by devotees, and even had parts painted blue (ah, the hijinks of a college campus). But the CorTen steel structure also received parting gifts from the elements. Five decades of rain, rust, and debris collected in the sculpture’s hoof and caused it to disintegrate.

Fortunately, art department Professor Francis Fox intervened. The sculpture was moved into a studio where he cut away and fashioned a new hoof of CorTen steel. It was much more difficult to come by than in the 70s, but Fox wanted to preserve the integrity and history of the sculpture.

For Fox, this renovation was a chance to protect the art of a peer and a friend.

“Every excuse Al had to come by, I always enjoyed it, hearing his stories,” Fox said. “So while I was working on the sculpture I kept thinking,‘I want him to see this!’, ‘I want to ask him this!’ But that was the most rewarding part of this work: continuing his legacy.”

-By Brianne Phillips