Val Dee Lewis holds on of the sculptures he has laying around his house.
BOTHWELL – Val Dee Lewis, of Bothwell, has made a name for himself as a sculptor, even though his day job is in the engineering field.
He worked at ATK until he retired in 2013, then he went to work at Hill Air Force Base. Now he is looking forward to his second retirement, so he can concentrate on his artwork.
His talent came to light while he was working on the Space Shuttle at ATK.
“After the Challenger disaster, we were doing dry fits with tang clay of shuttle segments,” he said. “We had a big ball of clay sitting around and I started doodling and making characters or cartoon figures of people I worked with.”
He exaggerated the peoples’ features, but they were still recognizable.
“Ace Christensen, who was working on the Tremonton Veterans Memorial, asked if I would do a sculpture for them,” Lewis said. “That was the first large sculpture I’d done.”
The Tremonton Veterans Memorial sculpture was the first in a succession of works honoring American Heroes from military men and women to firefighters in southern Idaho and northern Utah cities and counties.
“I remodeled my horse barn and turned it into a studio,” the fourth generation Bear River Valley native said. “I have some finished pieces and some in the process in the studio.”
Lewis would like to get his work out there where people can see it. He has finished pieces throughout his house and his studio.
“I’d like to sell my work, I have a lot of art I’d like to get it out where people can see it,” he said. “I hate to sit at a booth to sell it.”
He would like to form an art guild so he and other artists could pay someone to push their artwork. Lewis said artists are independent people, like farmers, they live by their creativity, it’s an instinct.
The Bothwell resident sought coaching from some of the area’s more skilled sculptors.
“I’ve stolen from everyone I could find,” Lewis said. “If an artist tells you he has never stolen from anyone, he was a liar.”
He said sculpting is a lost art. With 3D printers and computers, people don’t have to rely on sculptors anymore.
One of his favorite works is a Native American Indian on a horse with a spear in hand raised and ready to slay a bison.
He said sculpting people is much harder than animals; and his background in math is useful when taking a sculpture from a third size to one and a half times the original.
“I am currently working on a series of sculpture tabletop series of the life of Christ,” he said. “Right now I’ve got the woman that had a blood disease and reached out to touch the Savior and was healed.”
He said he would really like to do one of Christ calming the seas. He thinks that could be a dramatic piece.
Three memorials designed and created by Val Lewis have been honored with the George Washington Foundation at Valley Forge “Medal of Freedom” award. The award is given to communities for projects promoting American Ideals of Freedom.