The red fox has acted as the Town of Middleburg’s unofficial, but iconic, mascot since the turn of the twentieth century and that relationship will soon become something that’s literally larger than life.
The Middleburg Arts Council this month announced an initiative to commission the creation of a bronze red fox sculpture that, once completed, will measure six feet from nose to tail—twice the size of the real animal—and will be installed in a central location in town. Creating the $30,000 sculpture will be Goksin Carey, the vice president of the Artists in Middleburg nonprofit and a resident artist who has taught sculpting to hundreds of students in the town since 2014.
The idea to commission a fox sculpture was initially dreamed up by Business and Economic Development Director Jamie Gaucher as a way to personify the town’s rich heritage and attract more visitors. It was shortly after his arrival in Middleburg last July that Gaucher, a New York City native, decided the town needed something similar to the 11-by-16-foot charging bull sculpture on Wall Street.
“I’m just sensitive to the incredible amount of energy and tourism that’s associated with that sculpture,” he said. “It really was an economic development idea.”
Soon after, Gaucher and Debbie Cadenas, chairwoman of the arts council, decided that a red fox would suit the town best, since fox hunting has been an integral part of the town since the early 1900s. “We thought right away it’s got to be a fox,” Cadenas said.
It wasn’t long after that decision that Cadenas recruited Carey, the Turkish Community Star Awards’ Best Artist of 2015, for the job. Once the arts council gets enough donations, Carey will start chiseling away with the help of her sculpture class. In addition to giving students the opportunity to sign up and be a part of the effort, the project will also give students an education on how the sculpture process works from beginning to end.
“This is going to be very interactive,” Cadenas said. “These are skills you would learn back in the Middle Ages in Italy.”
According to Artists in Middleburg President Sandy Danielson, town artists have sculpted horses, dogs, fish, birds and human figures, but never any foxes, and especially none of this magnitude.
Carey said the sculpture wouldn’t be difficult for her to handle because of her methodical sculpting process that guides her from the initial armature work through the actual clay-sculpting phase. She said the fox would take less than two months to complete. “It’s a quite precise working schedule,” she said.
Funds are still being raised for the project, with a $5,000 donation from the Middleburg Garden Club being the only one received so far. Cadenas said that if the arts council can raise another $10,000, Carey could start sculpting. Once fundraising picks up, the Town Council will also contribute a portion of its $14,000 budget that’s dedicated to supporting the arts council.
Gaucher said that the project is in line with the town branding initiative, which will incorporate the fox into future branding and advertising materials.
“This would dovetail to that extent with the branding,” he said. “There is a similar energy around enhancing and communicating how awesome Middleburg is.”
Once Carey’s fox is sculpted and bronzed, Cadenas said that a good place for it to be displayed would be near The Pink Pox Visitors Center on North Madison Street.
“I think it would look great there,” Cadenas said. “That’s kind of the center hub of town.”
For the time being, residents are invited to be a part of the project by donating to the effort or paying $235 to sign up for Carey’s class to help sculpt the soon-to-become iconic fox of Middleburg.
“It could be a really wonderful opportunity for people who want to learn to do sculpture,” Cadenas said. “It’s just a wonderful thing all around.”