Wilcox Mansion / T. R. Inaugural Site - Table of Contents ..................... Public Art - Table of Contents
Theodore Roosevelt Statue
at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site
641 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo NY
The Story Behind the New Statue of Theodore Roosevelt
By Colin Dabkowski
Pub. in The Buffalo News, November 1, 2015
The Maryland-based sculptor Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez has completed his first official sculpture of a U.S. president. The 7½-foot bronze, installed Oct. 26 outside the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, depicts the 26th president much as he looked on the day of his inauguration in Buffalo on Sept. 14, 1901.
To create the monumental piece, Mendez, whose father Tony is the ex-CIA agent whose role in the Iranian hostage crisis was the basis of the film “Argo,” did a deep dive into Roosevelt’s life story. He started with a pictorial history of the president, then moved on to Edmund Morris’ biography “Theodore Rex.” After paging through that and a few other Roosevelt biographies, Mendez emerged with the elegant and confident image of the young president now permanently installed on the west lawn of 641 Delaware Ave.
[Said sculptor Mendez:] "When Teddy first came to Buffalo, he came wearing a top hat, which is not how we think of Teddy Roosevelt, but when he came to Buffalo, he wore a top hat, formal suit and then during the funeral procession and services, that’s how they dress. So you see him with that elegant top hat, the coat, it has a sense of formality to him. One thing that I really like about Teddy Roosevelt is that he had that personality of the Roughrider, the cattleman, that part of his personality, but he also had kind of an elegant leader side of his personality. He lived in both worlds. He never dumbed himself down."
[Mendez continued,] "I went to school in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute. I did my bachelor’s there. I’ve been working as a sculptor for about 30 years. I trained one year in Spain, where I learned processes that you use when you’re doing heroic-scale sculptures."
"I’ve done work on the U.S. Navy Memorial. I’ve done sports sculptures. For the Boston Red Sox, I did Carl Yastrzemski and for the Baltimore Orioles, I did all of the Hall of Famers that are at Camden Yards. I did Gandhi in Long Island, New York, and Thurgood Marshall in Annapolis, Md."
Sculptor Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez
New Era Foundry, Baltimore, MD