Rodger Brodin was always impressed with the realism and the beauty of Rodin’s sculpture, particularly his portraiture work, he would often kid around, “First Rodin, now Brodin” (of course, with the same sound to the two names). He sculpted several portraits “live” in the Crystal Court of the IDS Center in Minneapolis in 1979 in front of crowds of people, and did several of celebrities and professional people, Grady Clark (“Mr. IDS”) and General John Vessey, Jr. (retiring ”Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff”) during his career. Rodger taught the particular talent of portraiture to Neil and, and in particular the special ability of “catching a likeness” working strictly from photos in the case of a person after death. Neil one time was having a tough time working the face of a police officer from Hampton, Virginia, when Rodger stepped up and gouged a large thumb of clay from the chin and said, “Ahh, now that’s better.” And it was. He developed an ability to work the difficult Bas Relief style and Police and Fire Departments have used this technique to honor many of their Fallen. The Studios has put Bas Relief portraits together with a life-size sculpture of a uniformed officer to honor the fallen in a combination Memorial (Garden Grove, CA is a good example).
The Studios has been asked more often in the last few years to honor an officer or firefighter who was killed in the line of duty and it has continued to this second week of July when we have begun the work on a Federal Agent, Jamie Zapata, who was tragically shot and killed in Mexico this las February. Polk County, Florida, has requested an second two full body portraits of deputies killed in that county, following the recent unveiling and memorial dedications of portraits of Matt Williams and his K-9 partner “Diogi” and Sgt Ronnie Brown this last January. Steve Holland and Neil worked together on those portraits and just unveiled another in Maplewood, Minnesota (a Bas relief) of Sgt. Joe Berseron, May 1st on the one-year anniversary of his murder in 2010. Unfortunately, Officers continue to be killed on the job, a National tragedy.