“The Giant” and Todd Andrews – Sculptor

Do you drive past something special every day and never really pay any attention to it?

Do you know what I mean?

Is there something special in your ‘backyard’, basically, that you’ve never really explored because it has always been there?

For example, I lived in San Francisco but never climbed Coit Tower.  I know plenty of SF natives that have never walked across the Golden Gate bridge or walked down the crooked Lombard Street or ridden a Cable Car!

You get what I’m getting at…


Well, pictured here is a huge broze statue that I pass at least 10 times a week.  It is on my regular drive into town.  It is called, “The Gentle Giant” however none of us call it that.  We all refer to it as the “big horse statue” or the “draft horse statue at the fairgrounds”.

It sits at the entrance of the Nevada County Fairgrounds in honor of the annual Draft Horse Classic that is held there.

This is the famous statue we see every day.


But, the other day I decided that I wanted to stop and look at it…really look it over and see who created it.  So I did.

I actually remembered my camera, parked my car and stood beneath the behemoth.

This is what I saw.

It is way taller than I am -


You can see the plaque. Plainly the statue has a proper name.

Wow.  Being beneath it was so different than driving past it at 50mph!



I noted that the sculptor was Todd Andrews.  I told myself to look him up when I got back home.  I figured he was some hotsy-totsy sculptor from some exotic locale.  I expected that he had never heard of Grass Valley, California before he won the commission…

I wondered what our community paid for it.  But, I didn’t really care since it is such a landmark and everyone refers to it… money well spent.

Just about every townsperson uses the statue in a directional sentence.

“Yup, when you see the big horse statue, you are almost at the freeway”… or “Go up McCourtney, and you know you are on McCourtney because you’ll see that big horse statue…” or  “If you see the horse statue, you can’t miss it, you are going the wrong way”.

Everyone here in Grass Valley is very proud of “The Giant” but I bet 90% of all people living here have never known the official name of this incredible bronze sculpture – or stood beneath it.

I took this from my car. I could barely get the whole thing in frame.


So, I came home and googled TODD ANDREWS.

OMG.  I’m such a doofus and so wrong in my assumptions!

Todd Andrews lives in Grass Valley!  Yup, relocated up here to live among all the beauty!  His website even had directions to his studio which is also right on my way into town.  (His studio is hidden, however.  The statue is not.)

Included on his website was his bio which I read. He has many famous installations, no surprises there.  I’ve linked his long list of work here.

But, what was surprising is that there are a few other original Todd Andrews bronze statues around town that I never knew existed!  I actually got in my car and drove to the one of the other statues just because I couldn’t believe it existed where the website said it existed since I had passed that site a zillion times and never noticed the life-sized statue of a stag there before.

It was there.  Oy.  I need to pay a little more attention to the little (big) things that surround me during my day…

Here is Todd carving.


Todd has the procedure noted on his website which I will link here.

I thought it was great fun to see ” The Giant” in the making.  What an endeavor.

Welding The Giant

1. The client and I agree on the subject, pose and budget.

2. I research the anatomy and body language of the subject.

3. I create a 3D wax model to try to capture the feeling of the subject.

4. The client and I review the model, and I build a maquette (model).

5. Once the model is approved, I request a development fee. This covers the cost of my time and materials, determining the necessity of an armature or engineering for the bronze sculpture, determining the mounting, casting, shipping, and installation costs, and drawing up an agreement.

6. Upon signing the agreement, I request a down payment, and my staff and I build a full-sized armature of our design to support the clay.

7. We clay up the full-sized sculpture, then detail it. The client approves the sculpture either in person or by video, and makes a progress payment.

8. My staff and I make a mold of the sculpture.

9. The bronze foundry casts a full-sized wax and I inspect it to insure the integrity of the original has been maintained. (Pictures of the bronze casting process are shown on the Bronze Process page.)

10. The wax is set up with a cup to pour in bronze, feeds to bring in molten bronze, and vents to remove gases.

11. It is then repeatedly dipped in a liquid slurry and sprinkled with sand, as a ceramic shell is built around the wax.

12. The wax is melted out in a kiln.

13. Molten bronze is poured into the hollow shell.

14. The bronze pieces are fitted together and welded.

15. An armature is installed if needed, and mounting methods are installed as the bronze is assembled.

16. Once the sculpture is together, it is finished to match the original surface.

17. The finished bronze is given a patina by applying several chemicals which give it a rich, robust color.

18. The finished sculpture is carefully packed and shipped to its destination, where it is installed to the client’s specifications.



Wow.  I suggest that all of you get out and explore something that you pass everyday.  I sure enjoyed it and in some broney statue way, I think paying homage to such a gorgeous creation puts a special shine on The Giant in that moment.  At least I like to think that the draft inside the sculpture was happy that I thought he was beautiful.

I'm so glad I stopped and took the time to admire something I see every day.


HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!



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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

9 comments have been posted...

  1. Peggy Magilen

    Yes, thank you. I have loved this sculpture for years. I live in Walnut Creek, but when driving to Grass Valley, at least once a year, I just must stop to deeply soak in the beautiful energy of this creation, often with tears.

    No time to add more, but your title of her is missing an important word, The Gentle Giant, which must be used to embrace the magnitude of what Todd captured in his expression of her presence and humbly huge offering to humankind.

  2. Claudia Hathaway

    I got to see some of the construction of the Gentle Giant. It was amazing. I bought a miniature replica of the Gentle Giant. I have #2. I love it. I go to the Draft Horse Classic almost every year. My name is on the base of the Gentle Giant. I am honored to have been a financial supporter of the construction… He is magnificent. My last name was Richardson when my name was put on the base.

  3. Jennifer Cox

    Wow what a stunning creation! I thought the style looked familiar, and it turns out he has done 3 different pieces for my hometown county!

  4. David Andrews

    Todd Andrews is my “little brother”. I live and play in West Palm Beach, Florida (head honcho of the Kayak Fishing Club of the Palm Beaches) and just found your site when I did a Google search for Todd and I want to thank you for what you said and all. I do not know if he has seen your site, but I am sending him the URL. He is right now working on some more big bronze statues. Again, thank you.

    David Andrews

  5. RiderWriter

    WOW, that is really a great story and what a magnificent statue!!! I know exactly what you mean about local landmarks. I grew up in NJ and took countless trips into NYC for shopping, plays, to visit museums, and go up in tall buildings, but what do you suppose we somehow never did??? Ever heard of a large bronze lady who stands in New York Harbor and is, you know, just a LITTLE bit famous? :-) That’s right, it actually took until I was in college and visiting home with my BF who had never been to the City to get me out there ascending Miss Liberty. How silly!

    Right now I’m sitting 45 minutes from the St. Louis Arch, a landmark if there ever was one. Not being from here, of course I’ve gone up in the thing at least five times. But I bet if you polled the locals you’d find plenty who haven’t…

    I love, love, love to do exactly that sort of thing, especially with my kids – i.e. check out stuff that looks interesting, that we may or may not have driven past a million times. I call it “going exploring,” and sometimes my crazy whims are met with groans but usually they wind up learning something or having a splendid time. Probably our favorite story along those lines is the day I made a wrong turn, stopped to buy peaches from a roadside vendor, found out that they came from IL, and wound up taking a car ferry that I had NO idea existed across the Mississippi to the orchard. The kids and I had a BLAST. “Daddy, we’re in Illinois and we took a BOAT!” They still talk about it.

    The expression on that horse’s face is just wonderful. What a beautiful job the sculptor did! Wish we had such a nifty landmark to navigate by.

  6. Mari Dickson

    This statue is gorgeous!! I am very partial to drafts (we always called them “work horses”)
    Could you please tell us about the names on the left side of the monument. The right side appears to be dedicated to commerce.

    I was born and raised here and never saw Wisconsin Dells or toured a brewery.

    Thank you for this lovely blog!

  7. Judy Abernathy

    The work it took to build the big horse educated the workers on what work is for the “big guys & gals” (althought I am not sure they used mares for this work-could have been too distracting) Thank you so much for stopping to do the pics and story. Judy

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