Sculptor's work displayed at stock show leads to commission


RAPID CITY (AP) – Both of Fritz Hoppe's parents were artists, so it is no surprise that he developed an interest in art.

Hoppe graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a business degree. But he said art has always been a passion.

"I have been around art and artists since I was a little kid," Hoppe said. He sold his first cast piece when he was 19.

He said cast pieces appeal to him in many ways.

"These pieces are all done by hand right here in America," Hoppe told the Rapid City Journal. "From making the molds, to pouring the wax, to casting the bronze, sometimes it is more science than art."

But nothing in business school or his artistic training could have prepared him for where a booth at the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo would take him.

At the 2019 show, Hoppe was approached by an Aberdeen family about making an exact cast replica of one of their Angus bulls. It will be Hoppe's biggest piece yet.

"I was commissioned at last year's show to do an Angus bull bust," Hoppe said. "It is in clay now and should be ready this summer."

Art intersected with real life when he worked on that project, making a bust of a John Kippley Angus Bull.

"I love creating art from memory," Hoppe said. "But for this piece, I was standing next to the bull making precise measurements. At one point I even had to hold his nose to get it right."

You can see the work in clay at his booth at this year's show in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. He has many more pieces on display as well.

His favorite is a cast of a Native American hunter chasing a bison full speed on horseback.

"A lot of people say that it is my best work," he said.

After the show, Hoppe will focus on his work as he tries to secure a spot on the Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk.

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