Sculptor commissioned to complete Joe Frazier statue has died
Christian Avard / Staff File Photo Lawrence Nowlan stands in his Windsor sculpture studio in 2012. He died Tuesday at age 48, according to family members.
A renowned Upper Valley sculptor known for life-size bronze statues of famous people and places died Tuesday, according to family members.
Lawrence Nowlan, of Cornish, N.H., was the bronze sculptor who created statues of former Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, the Wildland Firefighters National Monument in Boise, Idaho, and the War Memorial in downtown Windsor. He was 48 years old.
Nowlan, originally from Merion, Pa., moved to Cornish, where he was artist-in-residence at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site from 1995 to 1997 and 2001 to 2002.
Nowlan studied bas-relief and portrait sculpture at Saint-Gaudens, where his talent as a sculptor caught the attention of many. It was during his time at Saint-Gaudens when Nowlan was selected for his first major project, the Wildland Firefighters memorial.
“It was one of the only times a park staff member was selected to do a national memorial,” Rick Kimball, Saint-Gaudens superintendent, said. “(Larry) studied flat sculpture and using light and shadow to simulate depth. He really studied the works of Saint-Gaudens and became a master at it. There aren’t that many like Nowlan.”
After Saint-Gaudens, Nowlan moved into a studio at a former church on Main Street in Windsor. He continued his bronze sculpture work where he gained even more national prominence.
According to his website, Nowlan built a statue of Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason’s beloved character, for the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.
He went on to create the VH1 “My Music Award,” the ESPN “Espy Award,” a life-size bronze angel fountain at the Cornish Colony Gallery, a 16-foot sculpture of 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick and an 18-foot long high relief of Kinnick’s famous touchdown against the University of Notre Dame. Both are located at the University of Iowa Campus in Iowa City, Iowa.
Other works include a monument for the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., a series of bas-relief portraits for the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif., two relief portraits for the town of Carrick, Ireland in County Donegal and a commemorative plaque of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Dublin, Ireland, Saint-Gauden’s place of birth and a bronze wildcat statue unveiled in June at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H.
But perhaps Nowlan’s biggest accomplishment was getting selected to build an 8-foot, 800 pound statue of Philadelphia’s boxing legend Joe Frazier. In a May interview with the Rutland Herald, Nowlan said the statue will depict Frazier’s famous left hook that knocked Muhammad Ali down in 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, best remembered as “The Fight of the Century.”
Nowlan’s portrait showed Frazier on his toes, moving forward with his head up high and eyes wide open. The statue will stand outside the XFinity Live! Sports Complex in South Philadelphia.
Statue Project Manager Richard Hayden heard of Nowlan’s sudden passing from Robert Silva, attorney for the Frazier family. According to Hayden, the Fraziers “were stunned” when they heard the news as were Philadelphia city officials.
Hayden said the final version of the Frazier statue has not been completed but the city is not ready to discuss the next steps for the project. Right now, they are coping with the sudden loss of a sculptor who was true to his Philadelphia roots while living in New Hampshire and working in Vermont.
“We’re just stunned by it,” Hayden said in a phone interview. “(Nowlan) was very excited about the project and so was the city and the Frazier family. We were finally at the point where we were going to commemorate the life of a boxing legend as opposed to (Rocky Balboa), a fake character from a movie. It’s just stunning. It’s very tragic.”
The cause of Nowlan’s death is unknown at this time. He leaves behind his wife, Heather, and two children.
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