Meet Adelor

Adelor 03In September of 2012, we started a new bronze sculpture commission for Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.  It was a sculpture commission unlike any we’ve previously done in our over 25 years of professional experience.  We were given the opportunity to sculpt a life size sculpture of “Adelor” the lion.  This was a dramatic departure from the kind of work we’ve done in the past.  Our artistic career had been focused primarily on rendering the human form in both secular and sacred art sculpture.  We were very excited, to say the least, to be given the honor of creating our first animal sculpture monument for a world class zoo.  We like new challenges and this was most certainly uncharted territory for us.Adelor 01Our goal for this project was not to create just any lion, but rather to create a portrait of a particular lion – Adelor.  We wanted to treat Adelor with the same artistic integrity, dignity, and respect we would give if we sculpted a human being.  Since Adelor had died at the age of eighteen in February of 2012, we had to solely rely on photographs and DVDs provided by the zookeepers and zoo staff.  We also spent many hours studying the anatomy of lions at the zoo and at the Field Museum of Natural History.  Anatomy books and lion documentaries were also extremely helpful.  Our goal was to make this lion sculpture as life-like as possible by studying the bone structure, proportions, muscle structure, and tactile qualities of the skin and mane.  Sculpting Adelor’s mane, alone, was a project with in a project.  The posture of the sculpture is a reclining relaxed pose as Adelor gazes with alertness as if something caught his attention.  The pose gives one the impression that Adelor is just about to get up.  The pose is also designed to encourage interaction and photo ops.

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As the sculpture developed, those involved in evaluating the work were able to appreciate the amount of work it takes to create a bronze public monument.  The whole process is an extremely labor intensive journey from the beginning armature to the final installation.  It is an eye-opening experience  to travel to Shidoni Foundry in Santa Fe, New Mexico and see first hand the final bronze stage of the Adelor sculpture process.  The sculpture took about nine months to complete.

Adelor 02Adelor was the most popular lion in Lincoln Park Zoo history.  He had a magnificent mane, a commanding roar, and he really connected with people.  At the Adelor sculpture dedication on June 22, 2013, volunteers described how they connected with Adelor.  One in particular had been a volunteer at the Zoo for many years and she knew Adelor when he was very young.  They used to play a “high five” game on the glass barrier window almost every morning.  Adelor is still very popular today as his bronze image greets people at the east entrance.  Children stand in line to have their pictures taken at the sculpture.  Perhaps, in the not too distant future, Adelor can have a bronze pride of his own with a lioness and cubs to keep him company.


Veteran’s Day Memorial

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This Veteran’s Day will mark the tenth anniversary of the unveiling and dedication of our bronze Soldier Field monument, known in Chicago as the “Tribute to Freedom”, and our nine bronze Service medallions on the Soldier Field Water Wall.  The monument measures about twelve feet high and fifteen feet wide.  It is a bronze and granite high bar-relief sculpture panel depicting a scene of men and women in the armed forces with their family members along Chicago’s lakefront.  Our message in the monument is not to glorify war or military adventurism, but rather to honor our veterans’ service and to pay homage to the families waiting for their safe return.  Unlike most military monuments, there are no weapons in the Soldier Field composition.

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Water Wall 1Just directly south of the Soldier Field monument is the Water Wall fountain which features nine bronze service medallions (each three feet in diameter) projecting from the granite surface of the fountain.  The projection of the medallions allows the water to flow behind the sculpture giving the illusion of the medallions floating on the surface.  Depicted in the medallions are the official seals of the branches and organizations of the armed forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, Merchant Marines, Reserves, National Guard, and POW/MIA.

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Much research was involved in creating the Soldier Field monument and Water Wall medallions.  It was crucial that the uniforms, ranks, and decorations were accurate and up to date.  The project took about a year of painstaking work and many long hours of amateur building, clay modeling, mold making and foundry work.  The final results certainly paid off and we were able to meet the deadline and fulfilled all that was required of a project dedicated to the veterans who served and who have sacrificed.

We recently visited our monument and are pleased to report that the City of Chicago has been maintaining it very well over the past decade.  Out-door bronze sculpture needs to be cleaned and waxed at least once a year.  If not properly maintained the elements will eventually turn the bronze green due to the high copper content in the alloy. Our monument is located on Chicago’s Museum Campus area along McFetridge Drive between the north entrance to Soldier Field Stadium and the south entrance of the Field Museum of Natural History.  To view a video interview on the Soldier Field monument click here.

copyright Koh-Varilla Guild 2013 |

Reinventing Ourselves

2.Artst with four muses re

Hello friends,

As you all know, we’ve been artists for over 30 years and love the work we do.  When we put our first website up in the early 90’s we couldn’t have imagined what our journey would look like in the next 20 years.  We’ve had some great successes working on some incredible projects and now we find ourselves faced with a rapidly changing society and culture hooked on social media.  After updating our website we decided to jump into the social media world and start a blog!  We are passionate about our work and want show you what we are working on in our studio.  As artists we work at our craft everyday and a blog is the perfect way to share what we are passionate about.  Our goal, to start, is one post a week.

Speaking of our website, have you seen it yet?  Go to and let us know what you think.  You can leave a comment here or on our Facebook page (click here to go to our Facebook page).

Welcome to our “studio”, we are glad you are here.

Anna and Jeff

copyright Koh-Varilla Guild 2013 |