Bass Reeves event welcomes sculptor

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Jan. 30—Bass Reeves memorial service offered a glimpse into the future as well as a woman's search for the past.

During the memorial Sunday at Three Rivers Museum, Luther sculptor Joel Randall unveiled a sketch of the statue he is to make of Reeves. The sketch shows Reeves striding along a wood sidewalk.

The bronze statue is to be east of Three Rivers Museum, in front of a mural depicting Reeves' beat along Second and Elgin Streets.

"It shows Bass not as U.S. Marshal, but as Muskogee Police officer," Randall said as the audience applauded. "This makes it specific to Muskogee."

Reeves spent 32 years as a U.S. Marshal in Indian Territory before retiring to become a Muskogee Police officer in 1907.

Randall said Reeves will be shown walking his beat, billy club in one hand and a holstered sidearm handy.

"Steely-eyed with an air of confidence," Randall said.

Reeves will be presented in heroic size, which is one and one-fourth life size. This would make him about 8 feet tall.

"Sometimes sculptures are life-size , and everybody thinks, 'that looks a little smaller than life size,'" Randall said. "When you put people in front of the sculpture, they look big and the sculpture looks small. We wanted to make sure we did our due diligence to make this a large scale sculpture."

He said the sculpture could be placed low to the ground "where people can approach it and appreciate the details."

Ann Ong with the Muskogee Area Arts Council, said Randall "most clearly demonstrated his understanding of our appreciation for Bass."

"He definitely is artistically and technically qualified to do this work," Ong said.

Museum director Angie Rush said the statue, which is to be completed by next January, was four years in the planning.

"That was started by the Muskogee Area Arts Council," Rush said. "They gave the first $20,000 to the Bass Reeves project. The rest has been funded by small donations, private donations and event donations. We want to thank everyone who contributed to that."

Tulsa resident Denise Hayes had another reason to come to the memorial service.

"I'm in the midst of trying to prove that Bass Reeves is my great-great-great-grandfather," she said, adding that she is doing genealogical research on the possible link.

"My great-great-grandfather is named George Reeves, and he had a grandson named Benny, which is my daddy," Hayes said. "Bass Reeves had a son named Benny. A lot of names, we believe were carried from Bass Reeves' family to my existing family today.'"

Hayes held a photo of George W. Reeves, her ancestor, to a photo of Bass Reeves.

"Look at those two pictures, look at the hat, the mustache," she said.