Some families place different colored lights and ornaments on the Christmas tree, while others add shiny tinsel and holly to make their spirits bright. Many use artificial trees as a place to display the presents, while some wouldn’t consider it Christmas without a real tree set up in the living room for everyone to see.
While there’s a multitude of ways in which to decorate a Christmas tree, it’s almost certain that the Kendall Hart family of Farmington is unique in having a 9-foot tall Bigfoot occupying their front room tearing this year’s Christmas tree apart for the holidays.
You see, Kendall Hart — the patriarch of the family — is not only art director of the soon-to-be-open 11,500 square feet Museum Learning Center in Ste. Genevieve, but he’s also a professional sculptor, painter, illustrator and graphic designer.
Hart isn’t well-known for sculptures of famous Civil War generals on majestic display in city parks or breathtaking Christian art glorifying Jesus Christ in church sanctuaries, but instead he sculpts mythical creatures — and scary ones at that. Bigfoot was but one of 16 creatures he made for a for a one-man show he held two years ago at Powell Gardens, a not-for-profit botanical garden located just east of Kansas City, Missouri.
“Our life-sized Bigfoot was retired from the show and on hiatus for a couple of years, I guess, so I thought he’d make a great Christmas decoration,” he said. “We brought him inside the house — we just happen to have these tall ceilings and I said, ‘I think we can do this.” And so, we have Bigfoot ripping the tree in half. Next year we’ll do a Victorian theme with a beautiful tree, but this year…”
…they have Bigfoot tearing a Christmas tree apart.
Asked what she thought about her husband’s unusual artistic talent, Hart’s wife Joanna — who is the Ste. Gen museum’s administrator — said, “I love his talent and his art, but it takes up a lot of space.”
Breaking into the conversation, Hart said, “It takes a lot of friends and family to get it through the door.”
According to Hart, it took around three months of “daily work” to build the massive Bigfoot, but the creature has definitely taken second place in his heart while the artist works diligently on his museum project.”
Hart added that Bigfoot hasn’t spent the rest of his time sitting in the basement gathering dust. He does all kinds of charity work.
“You took him out for the Suicide Prevention Walk over at Engler Park,” Joanna Hart said. “That was his first day out for a while.”
Hart said, “So, he’s available to contribute to the community. He’ll do charitable events until I either refurbish him or build a new one that will tour again.
And what does the process of building his mythical creatures involve?
“Usually just a quick thumbnail sketch,” he said. “Something fast, and then we weld up an interior frame. The skeleton is of steel. Over that we put foam and carve that down. Then he gets a layer of what we call ‘monster mud,” which is kind of a haute industry term for a mixture of mud, paint and glue.
“The next layer will adhere to foam. Over that foam layer, he gets hard-shelled with things like fiberglass, bondo and then a final outer-sculpted and detailed layer of epoxy glaze. Then he’s finished with house paints and fitted with taxidermist eyes. Sometimes I make the eyes myself. If I’m under a deadline for a show, I’ll use taxidermist eyes.”
For anyone concerned about what is going to happen to Bigfoot after Christmas — don’t give it a second thought.
“He’s probably going to stay here throughout the coming holidays and then he’s going to be refurbished and the new version of him will debut at the ToyMan Toy Show in St. Louis in September.”
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or email@example.com