Forever Friends

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A stunning horse sculpture is now greeting visitors at the Curran Apple Orchard Park in University Place while providing them with a glimpse of local history. UP for Arts, a nonprofit volunteer arts group, commissioned artist, John Jewell, to create the sculpture entitled “Forever Friends,” to celebrate the Curran Apple Orchard’s 25th Anniversary as a community park.

“The life-size bronze sculpture of a young girl offering an apple to a horse represents the deep connection between our rural past and our hope for the future,” said UP for Arts Membership Chair, Bunny Nance.  “It not only triggers memories of the early days in University Place but looks forward to the new memories yet to be made.”

Created in the early 1950s by Charles and Mary Curran, the orchard has played a pivotal role in bringing the community together.   Many residents have fond memories of visiting the orchard for apples and cider.

The Curran’s horses, Brewster and Christopher, were also quite popular, accepting apples from visitors and occasionally giving them rides.

During the early 1990s, developers approached the Currans about selling their land for housing.

The community rallied to obtain a Pierce County Conservation Futures Grant to preserve the orchard as a park along with purchasing the house.  After incorporation, the City took over the park with assistance from the CORE volunteer group.

“The orchard has continued to bring our community together through various activities such as the Adopt-A-Tree program, summer concerts, school tours and the Annual Cider Squeeze,” said UP for Arts Vice President and CORE member, Debbie Klosowski.  In recognition of the orchard’s 25th Anniversary as a Community Park, UP for Arts thought it was fitting to commission a sculpture to honor the orchard’s ongoing legacy to our community.

After several years of fundraising and grant writing, UP for Arts reached its $134,000 goal to acquire the artwork which is being donated to the city.

“This incredible artwork was actually inspired by a real horse named, Brewster, who lived in the orchard,” said UP for Arts President Debbie Scoles.  The young girl feeding him an apple (modeled by Annie Stafki, the artist’s granddaughter), symbolizes the many friendships that have been formed at the orchard.

Brewster, a great grandson of racing icon Man o’War, was bred with the hopes of becoming a race horse.  Right before his first race, Brewster came down with a serious illness and wasn’t expected to live.  The Currans couldn’t bear to put him down…instead they brought him home, hand fed him and Brewster survived!  Although his racing career was over, Brewster and his brother, Christopher, lived happily at the orchard for many years, delighting countless visitors.

In order to bring Brewster to life, UP for Arts contacted accomplished sculptor John Jewell who also created the group’s first donated artwork—the “Sharing” statue located in Cirque Bridgeport Park.

Jewell spent months researching thoroughbred race horses and old photos of Brewster to ensure the accuracy of the sculpture assisted by equine consultant Robin Peterson.  After developing the initial design, Jewell worked with Firebird Bronze Foundry to create the final artwork. Jewell’s passion for the project and attention to detail was also noted by the foundry’s owner who indicated the artwork was one of the strongest emotional pieces they had ever worked on.

“During the process of creating “Forever Friends,” I kept in mind University Place citizens’ unique connections to each other,” Jewell said.  “There is a spirit here of achieving a beautiful, living community that includes giving, sharing and caring for each other.  These values are conveyed in the offering of the apple and the exchange of full expressions between the girl and the large horse.  Youth and age, reaching out with trust and seeing each other in a moment of time are all part of this sculpture.  The effects of the wind on “Forever Friends” represents continual and diverse changes bringing us closer together in new ways.”

Although the official dedication for “Forever Friends” has been delayed due to Covid 19 concerns, people can visit the sculpture which is visible from Grandview Drive near the central gate.

This beautiful sculpture will invite people into the orchard to enjoy a really special place as well as providing a glimpse of what University Place looked like before we became a city.

UP for Arts would like to thank the countless individuals and groups for their assistance with this project including:

Grants from the Taxpayers of WA State, the Gottfried & Mary Fuchs Foundation and the Florence B. Kilworth Foundation, Sound Community Bank, New Tacoma Cemeteries & Funeral Home, Team Insurance, GFWC Chambers Bay Women’s Club, McPhee Dental Group and more than 120 individual donors.

Others providing invaluable assistance include:  Model Annie Stafki, Mary Jane Dubbs, United Church of University Place, University Place Presbyterian Church, Mt Cross Lutheran, Dale Kvamme, UP Police Chief Greg Premo and former UP Police Chief Mike Blair, West Pierce Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Adams along with Lance Nelson and Todd Rhody, State Senator Steve O’Ban, State Representatives Christine Kilduff and Mari Leavitt, former state representative Dick Muri, the University Place Library, City of University Place, Anthem Coffee, local artists  and countless other volunteers.  Also special thanks to Firebird Bronze Foundry, Thompson Electrical Constructors, Concrete Impressions, Inc, Campanoli Crane Service and Winsor Fireform Graphic Tiles.

The Forever Friends sculpture is the latest in a line of several major artworks donated by UP for Arts to the City of University Place.  Other major donations include the Grand Piano in the atrium and the hanging glass sculpture, “Beyond Sea and Sky;” “One Step Ahead,” duck statue in Market Square and “The Eagles’ Nest” in the 40th Street roundabout.  UP for Arts is also the proud sponsor of the Spring and Fall Art & Concert Series which features outstanding visual and performing artists.