created by Artist Peter Wolf Toth
—at the invitation of Peter A. Loedding [and later] salvaged by: Jim Webb —
Peter Wolf Toth
was born one of eleven children, December 1947, in the newly formed Republic of Hungary. His early childhood was influenced by the hardships his fellow countrymen were experiencing after World War II. During an uprising in 1956, Peter and his family were able to flee the country, living in different refugee camps for two years. Eventually his family immigrated to the United States where they settled in Akron, Ohio.
As Peter was growing up in the United States, he learned some of his art from his father. He also briefly studied art at the University of Akron, but he considers himself to be self-taught. His first carving was a Native American head made of stone in La Jolla, California.
Traveling across the United States in his "Ghost Ship", a modified Dodge Minivan, he would carve his "Whispering Giants", a series of Native American statues, wherever he was allowed or invited. He accepted no money for his work. He considered the statues a gift to his adopted country. Some of these cities would pay for his lodging and supply any materials needed.
Peter's goal of carving a statue in each of the fifty states was realized in May 1988. He also wrote a book about this project, called "Indian Giver". He had numerous television appearances. Now he spends his time carving new statues and replacing or repairing
The full-sized Chief Woapalanne statue once sat at the entrance to Brandon Park in Williamsport and stood 28 feet high. There are three mini statues carved by Peter Wolf Toth which are replicas of Statue #65, part of the "Whispering Giants" series. They area [sic - are a] part of a collection at the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society in Williamsport, PA.
Steps to Reconstruct the Sculpture:
· As a first step, the bottom 3 feet of the sculpture were removed, as rot had destroyed the bottom portion.
· A large split was discovered, resulting in the piece being cut in half, then the feathers ultimately broke off to create a three-piece object which needed reassembled.
· Over a few months, chain saws and carving tools were used to remove other areas of rot and insect damage. Days of sun-drying were followed by applications of water-based wood petrifier, and a bonding product to strengthen the piece.
· An indoor area was found to work on the piece as the advent of Fall and Winter seasons made it necessary. Using a floor jack and dollies to move pieces, the use of various kinds of filler, construction adhesive, nails, screws, lag bolts and rods were employed to fill gaps and rebuild the sculpture.
· As the surface was finally reconstructed, hand-carving tools, sure-forms and sandpaper were employed
to revive the surface structure, which was then sealed and stained to replicate the natural wood color.
[Notes in light yellow boxes read]
· Bald Eagle Mountain cuts through our county from east to west and is named for Waopalanne [sic], or Bald Eagle (d. 1779?), said to be a chief of the Munsee (Wolf) clan of the Lenape (Delaware) Nation.
· An 85-year old red oak was donated by Douglas P. Bastian and Margaret Bastian Hoffman in honor of their parents, Clyde E. and Minnie C. Bastian. Peter spent six days a week chiseling the huge log, weighing 20,000 pounds. He worked on it for several weeks as it lay on the ground. Midway, in a small "tree-raising" ceremony the roughed-out shape was hoisted to vertical and seated on metal rods sunk in a concrete base for support.
· Toth's works were never intended to be totem poles, as he felt it would be in appropriate for him to carve them. Totems were traditionally carved by Northwestern Indian tribes, and had religious significance. Toth's carvings are self-described as sculptures of people - and those people are all Native Americans.
His statues do not represent one specific tribe, but each presents a composite portrait of the tribes that lived in a given region.
[Photo captions, from left to right, read]
· The statue as it appeared in Brandon Park in 1990.
· Peter Wolf Toth (seated to
the right of two participants) at the dedication ceremony in Brandon Park in 1990.
· Restoration work by: Brian Flynn & Dave Stabley
Jim Webb contacted the artists whose work has resulted in the restoration of the piece displayed. With support from several businesses and Penn College, work areas and materials were supplied to give this sculpture a "new life."