"Carousel Hero", James Lee Hansen

Carousel Hero was brought to Salem for inclusion in OASF’s Sculpture Now! Exhibition. Initially on loan from the artist for a two year period, it has remained at the Salem Convention Center since 2011.  The work is part of James Lee Hansen’s Equestrian series of sculptures, comprised of works featuring horse and rider motifs that Hansen intends to have deep significance, although he has described their meaning in different ways.  He suggests that they represent “mankind’s pursuit of romance and freedom by taming and harnessing the creatures of the wild. We seek to gain for ourselves some semblance of our notion of lost freedoms by that robust connection.”

Over a career that has spanned more than sixty years in and around Battle Ground, Washington, Hansen has produced more than seven hundred sculptures ranging in size from small studies to monumental works of public art. Working primarily in bronze, Hansen’s sculptural series relate to his ideas about human origins, existence, identity, and reality.

Hansen was born in Tacoma and grew up in Vancouver, Washington. Following service in the US Navy in World War II, he enrolled in the Portland Museum School (now Pacific Northwest College of Art) where his classmates included Manuel Izquierdo and George Johanson.  Later, he built a home and studio, Burnt Bridge Studio, outside Vancouver, where he lived until 1977.  When the State of Washington made some significant transportation improvements nearby, he and his wife Jane relocated to a space they call Daybreak Studio, outside Battle Ground.