Doc in Bronze
A fan walked up to Doc Watson in late August, after the eighth
annual Todd Community Benefit Concert and said, "It's an honor to meet you, sir."
"Why is it an honor to meet me?" Watson said. "I am not the president. I am just one of the people. You know they want to build a bronze statue of me in downtown Boone. I told them if they don't put 'I'm just one of the people' on it, I'll tear it down. I will."
The Doc Watson Downtown Project is spearheaded by John Cooper, president of Mast General Store. "He started his musical career in downtown Boone, and that is why it is appropriate to do a statue of him," Cooper said.
The proposed statue's location is on the corner of King and Depot streets, outside the law firm of di Santi Watson Capua & Wilson.
"The location is a privately owned spot that is very public," Cooper said. "It is in an area that has a garden and it doesn't block the pedestrian walk ways. I think it will be a real attraction, not only an honor, but a tribute to Doc."
The life-size statue of Watson sitting on a metal bench, picking his guitar is in its fundraising stage. Supporters can inscribe a brick, which will be arranged around the statue, for $100.
There are also a limited number of life-size head studies of Doc, which will be casted in bronze for $1,500. Those who contribute $1,500 become what Cooper called "front-row supporters," earning themselves a prominently placed brick.
The time and labor involved in creating these head studies will be donated by Blowing Rock artist Alex Hallmark, who will sculpt the statue.
"Doc was somewhat reticent about the idea of a bronze statue of him in downtown Boone," Hallmark said.
As Watson warmed up to the idea, he made a point of moving the photography session, shot by Hallmark, to Doc's front porch, where he could be filmed playing his favorite guitar, a Gallagher. Also, during the shoot, he changed out of jeans and old work shoes into the dress clothes he wears while performing.
"What we try to do as sculptors is capture the spirit," Hallmark said. "How you do that I'm couldn't tell you, but I'm especially attracted to humility. And that is Doc Watson personified."
At Watson's request, a plaque on the bench will read "Doc Watson - Just one of the people."
According to Cooper, the project costs between $35,000 and $45,000, including Hallmark's commission, insurance for the statue and its maintenance. So far, fundraising efforts have generated $10,000, he said.
"I think it'll be an attraction for downtown Boone, one people will come to visit," Cooper said. "Alex is very excited about doing it, and he'll do a great job."
To support this project, contact John Cooper at (828) 963-6511 or Mary Baker, executive director of the Downtown Boone Development Association, at (828) 262-4532.
Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to the Downtown Boone Development Association at P.O. Box 362, Boone, N.C. 28607.