The kitschy glory of Big Tex and the Art Deco gem that is Fair Park itself get plenty of attention come State Fair time. We’re also partial to the colorful insanity of the Midway. But when it comes to art at the State Fair of Texas, which begins this Friday, it’s the butter sculpture — a fixture of state fairs across the country since the 1870s — that stands out.
The medium is unusual enough that the subject of a butter sculpture is of secondary importance. Seeing a half-ton of butter sculpted and kept refrigerated for public display, is weird and impressive on its own. But some butter sculptures are more memorable than others. Livestock is a common theme, as is portraiture of famous figures, from Teddy Roosevelt to Tiger Woods.
Last year’s butter sculpture at the State Fair was a rendition of the fair’s 2015 grand champion steer. A nearby penguin gave an offbeat twist to a tried-and-true staple of butter art, but it wasn’t quite as bold as something like Norma Lyons’ 1999 butter re-creation of The Last Supper.
That’s why we’re very interested to see what Ken Robison, a Dallas artist, sculptor, and muralist who was commissioned to create his first butter sculpture for the State Fair last year, has come up with now. Our imagination was already running wild when we read the the official description from the fair:
The talented Ken Robison returns to create this year’s butter sculpture masterpiece, based on the 2017 theme “Celebrating Texans.” The sculpture, made from approximately 1,000 pounds of butter, showcases traditional Texas personas representing all things Texan. These include our urban life, agricultural roots, educational advancements, and our rich history; with faces carved into quintessential Texas landmarks.
Our mind’s vision of the sculpture was really off to the races, though, after coming across an interview Robison did recently with Amy Bishop of WRR 101. FM, North Texas’ classical music station.
In it, Robison reveals that he is a vegan, and that the 1,000 pounds of butter used for his sculpture, donated by Southwest Dairy, are unsalted. The sculpture is called Mount Muchmore, a reference to the presidential faces carved at Mount Rushmore. He talks about his process, and the difficulties in working in such a bizarre medium. His description of the sculpture’s…