Story of the Week

Posted: 05.07.2012
Mr. Stanley Wanlass
By: Robert Tate

Let’s take a moment to highlight one of the most creative and gifted sculptors of all time, Mr. Stanley Wanlass. Stanley displays his love and devotion for the automobile by designing limited edition automotive bronze sculptures. Early in life, Stanley demonstrated his passion for automobiles by molding bars of soap into mini automotive sculptures. He further continued his passion by collecting, restoring, and racing many automobiles.

Mr. Stanley Wanlass studied art at Brigham Young University located in Provo, Utah. He continued at Brigham Young University as faculty, but eventually he moved to France to teach European Art Academy in Paris and the University of Grenoble. Later in life, Stanley decided that he wanted to devote more time to his art and moved back to the United States and settled in Astoria, Oregon. Shortly thereafter, he received many awards and commissions that further sparked his creative drive generating many paintings, sculpture, corporate symbols, graphics and interior designs.


It was during that time when Mr. Stanley Wanlass began a series of limited edition bronzes including New York to Paris ‘08 and most famously, First Love. First Love was the first work in a new series of sculptures entitled Hot Rod Legends. The bronze sculpture was a 1932 Ford that was owned by Neal East of Alhambra, California. Neal first raced the vehicle on the dry lakes before and after World War II and later took first place in the very first hot rod show in 1948. The body work included a filled grille shell, door and deck handles, louvered hood, filled cowl and a custom dual windshield. The limited edition of the First Love was cased in bronze, measured 22" inches, weighed 30lbs, and included a hardwood base which sold for $7,750.00.


First Love

Some people call the Stanley Wanlass bronzes the “rolling sculpture” while others call it simply sensuous. The Detroit News quoted, “Despite being trapped in bronze, the Stanley Wanlass bronzes seem to be moving.” Although Mr. Stanley Wanlass is a gifted sculptor and painter, he tends to think of himself as a designer…regardless of the medium that is used. Content and meaning have always been important to him; however, form and structure is the first consideration during each piece of work. Stanley once said, "Good design is the form that supports the statement. If the form and statement successfully interact, a symbol is born. It becomes more than the sum of its parts.”


The Racers

Today, Mr. Stanley Wanlass, bronze sculptures will always be great accomplishments for style and creativity. He is continually recognized as one of the best internationally known automotive sculptor and painter in the world. For more information on Mr. Stanley Wanlass, visit: http://www.stanleywanlass.com/

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of Bob Tate’s Personal Collection. Please do not use any photographs without the permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. For further information contact Robert Tate at btate@motorcities.org.

If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez at lambriez@motorcities.org.

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