By Sylvia Scherer

Every adventure in life begins with a first step. On Aug. 2, the first piece of clay placed on an armature of wire, foam, and iron pipe designed by sculptress Goksin Carey gave life to an exceptional collaborative effort between the Artists in Middleburg (AiM), the Middleburg Arts Council and the Town of Middleburg. 

The result from that effort is a beautiful 6-foot bronze fox. The commissioned sculpture by Carey will arrive just in time for the holidays.

The idea for the fox originated with Middleburg Business and Economic Development Director Jamie Gaucher. It quickly drew the wholehearted support from Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton, Town Administrator Danny Davis, Middleburg Garden Club Vice President Darcy Justen, former Middleburg Arts Council (MAC) Chair Debbie Cadenas, MAC Chair Melissa Craig and Middleburg Community Center (MCC) Executive Director Olivia Rogers.

“The Middleburg Fox has had great support from the beginning,” said Sandy Danielson, executive director of Artists in Middleburg. “From Jamie Gaucher’ s initial concept, to the fundraising efforts by the Middleburg Arts Council, to the donors who enthusiastically contributed, to the admirers who were there every day, to the community center who will provide a home for the fox, and to Goskin and several of her students for their determined resolve – endless hours and a motivated commitment,” said  Danielson, “It has been an exciting project, from start to finish. We cannot wait for our fox to come home after it is bronzed!”

“Middleburg Garden Club is very happy to support the arts in this town. We loved the idea of a forever piece that everyone can enjoy,” said Justen who chairs community events for the Middleburg Garden Club in addition to being club vice president. “Raising the money was actually quite a bit of work, but we are very happy with the outcome.”

Why a fox, you might ask, as Middleburg is famous for being horse country?  Middleburg is located in the heart of Hunt Country. The community has bonded with both equine and the much smaller fox. This most playful, astute, agile, mischievous, beautiful omnivorous mammal of dignified presence and cunning spirit has conquered hearts. Despite causing strong emotions in those victims with legitimate grievances of foxy travesties, the fox has become a beloved hunt country symbol. 

The creative adventure began inside AiM’s gallery generously hosting this project by converting part of the space into a sculpting studio. This generated great interest within the community. People followed the progress through the display window and would frequently come inside to admire the work, ask questions and leave glowing testimony in the visitors book. As the sculpture progressed to the final stages, it had developed an
avid fan base.

“The Town of Middleburg is extremely proud to support the amazing group of sculptors and artists behind this project. They have created a truly unique centerpiece for our town and their team work in bringing this together shows the special nature of our great community,” said Mayor Littleton. “We look forward to enjoying this masterpiece and sharing it with visitors for generations to come.”

There were long days full of shared camaraderie, learning and hands on work between Carey and her dedicated group of students. Natalie Brown, Leslie Husain, Sylvia Scherer and Rosemarie Wunderlich were honored to be part of this endeavor. They followed their teacher’s every directive and method. 

“When I was invited to sculpt a realistic fox, I did not know then that this fox asked my heart to bring him to life,” said Carey who is well-known throughout the area for her beautiful creations. Measurements, observation, and modeling gradually gave rise to the body and character of this intelligent animal with a fondness for causing trouble, deserving its undisputed place in the stories and folklore of the world and the constellation Vulpecula in the Northern Sky.

To position a sculpture of such size and weight for work inside AiM’s gallery would not have been possible without an ingenious mobile wood base, engineered and designed to perfection exclusively for this purpose by Architect Erju Ackman, who acted as the project manager. Its height and tool storage allowed three to four sculptors to work simultaneously in comfort while shaping some 300 pounds of plasticine. The removable top facilitated transport to the foundry, which was an adventure in itself. Without his collaboration, his base design, his transporting the fox to the foundry, it would have been difficult to get this project off the ground. 

“I was never a hunter but I never chased the fox like this for so long and with such enthusiasm. I think Goksin gave us a fox that never runs away and it is a runaway success,” said Ackman. Soon, this unofficial mascot for the Town of Middleburg is expected to attain its rightful place in front of the community center. 

“We are thrilled that this permanent symbol for the town will be installed at the Middleburg Community Center this year, and greatly appreciate the support of their Executive Director Olivia Rogers,” said Middleburg Art Council Chair Melissa Craig. “We are planning a big reveal.”

And a big reveal it shall be. Each year, the Town of Middleburg plans a fun-filled day for the family featuring the famous mile-long Christmas Parade. This year it will include a ribbon cutting. Celebrate the town’s charm and this permanent bronze addition to the town’s landscape at noon on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the installation at the Middleburg Community Center. The center is located at 300 W. Washington St. in Middleburg.

Perhaps, with the passing of time, as young and old visitors come by, the fox will acquire that special sheen as countless hands rub the bronze. It is said that it may even bring good fortune. ML

This article first appeared in the December 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.