Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio
By: Molly Hooper
Did you know that our little town of Zanesville is home to the world’s largest bronze sculpture studio, of any living artist? The Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio & Gallery is hard to miss and easily stands out on S. Sixth Street, lined with life-size sculptures. One is even towering over the building looking out at the Sixth Street Bridge. If you are like me, you’ve always checked them out as you drive by, almost every day for a lot of us small-towners, but have never actually gone in. Today I did, and it was an enlightening experience. I found myself interested in the history behind each piece of artwork. Walking around and getting to read about each individual piece was relaxing. I had plenty of time to walk through each room, of which there are many, on two floors. On my way out, I was sure to ask the artist on the first floor if I could watch him work on what he had his hands dirty with.
Before walking into the studio, I walked down the street to check out the sculptures you try to get a look at as you drive by. There are animals, war heroes, athletes, and historical figures. My personal favorite is The Old Mushroom Hunter, of which there is also one inside, just a smaller version. This piece is said to be autobiographical for Cottrill, and I think it is neat that he contributes things in his life to his work. The outside is just a taste of everything that is to come on the inside. If you haven’t been, I highly suggest taking the time to check this place out; it’s something cheap to do, it’s informative, and it really makes you realize there are awesome places in our little town of Zanesville. You simply must get out there and see it. The hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of the week. There is a small $2.00 donation that is suggested while walking in, which is hardly anything! I promise you, even if you’re not a huge art fan, there is something historically in there that will strike your interest.
As I walked in, I went straight up the steps and checked out the first floor. I was shocked by the size of this place, and I love that the building is old. The big windows are gorgeous and let in so much natural light for you to see everything. This large space has two main rooms, then smaller rooms off to the side with different themes in each one. As I was walking around, I thought to myself how uncomfortable it must be, to be there at night. Some of the sculptures are life sized or even bigger. I pictured them all coming to life, the animals running around and fighting, the war heroes marching with their guns and their big boots clacking off the hard cement floor, the athletes kicking around balls, and the children playing hopscotch and dancing around. I could imagine every piece behaving exactly how it would. Two of them in particular gave me chills: what looked like huge eels right in the middle of the room. I got a vision of them slithering around in and out of each room. Paintings cover the walls as well; there is not a shortage of anything to look at. A smaller room off to the side has the walls filled with different masks and has an entire wall of head sculptures; this was one of my favorite things to check out. Beside this, there is a room displaying old arrowheads and some books on the history of them. What is nice about everything is that each piece is explained. You can take your time and read about each thing.
I finally got my fill of the second floor, so I headed back down to see what was on the first level. Again, it is full of tons of things to look at: sculptures honoring people of war with an American flag hanging behind them in one of the windows, faces hung up everywhere you look on the walls, and projects in the making spread out for you to see the process. What really made this an experience for me were the people working there. They will answer any of your questions and even let you go into the wax and mold rooms. A gentleman explained step by step what goes into making one of those amazing statues. He was working on a John Glenn piece, and everything was made of wax laid out on tables—arms, legs, and a helmet. He explained the next step of putting them all together to make him whole. I haven’t been to other studios, but I can’t imagine everywhere being this open to the public. It is such a neat experience.
Without a doubt, I will be going back in the future; it sparked an interest in me I didn’t even know I had. I can’t wait to plan my next trip to see if there is anything new and to see those pieces in the making all come together. It would be hard to leave disappointed, between all the different rooms to view and the up close and personal encounters with the artists. I even enjoyed the warehouse itself that the studio is in. The best yet is that it’s virtually free; $2.00 is such a small price considering everything that you get to view. I know all of us from Zanesville say there isn’t anything to do here, but with this I have learned that there actually is. Get out of your comfort zone and go do something different that you wouldn’t do every day. You may be pleasantly surprised!