A Hastings artist is known across the country and beyond for his impressive sculptures. NEWS 5's Dennis Kellogg takes a closer look at the artwork – and the artist – as we spend "A Day in the Heartland"
Herb Mignery was raised on a ranch. Maybe that's why he feels so comfortable focusing much of his artwork on the Old West.
"My interest being from the ranch, it was an automatic thing that I would choose western art. But I do consider myself an artist first and a cowboy second," said Mignery.
Herb was not born in Hastings, but he refers to it as his hometown.
He returned to the Hastings Museum recently for the dedication of his latest sculpture, entitled "Hau Kola," which means "Hello Friend" in Lakota. Herb told the audience that it took him some time before he finally found his calling.
"I was a truck driver. I was a bartender. I worked on a cattle ranch. I painted signs," said Mignery.
Now he sculpts. It is those life experiences, though, that provide the ideas for his artwork.
"Some of them come from experience, things that have happened to me. Some of them come from the things that could have happened to me, I guess in some cases," Mignery said.
Herb is known worldwide for his talent. He says art is just something he "has" to do.
"I think art is innate. I think it is an inherent thing, the desire to do it," said Mignery.
From twenty–foot high monuments to 24–inch bronze statues, he puts months of work into each one. He starts sculpting a large monument by creating a much smaller model.
"That way we eliminate all of our problems and all of the design issues are taken care of on the small one so that we do not have to move a lot of clay on the big ones in correcting," said Mignery.
He also sometimes he sculpts next to a mirror, which gives him a perspective he would not otherwise have.
"By looking at it in reverse, you see things that you never would see head on," Mignery said.
When it comes to judging his own work, Herb says his biggest competition is the man in the mirror.
"The only challenge I really face is to be better than myself, and to have each piece, try to make it a little bit better than the other one. I do not compete with other artists. I do not compete with anyone else. I compete with myself," Mignery said.
And considering the quality of his work, that is one tough competition.
Herb has not just done western art. His small sculptures were handed out to the winners like Charlie Pride and Loretta Lynn at the Country Music Awards for ten years. And he is currently working on a monument of a skier that will be placed in Park City, Utah.
Original airdate: April 27, 2010