About the Artist
Following a 1-credit experiential learning course at Muskegon Community College, titled "The Art of the Civil War," in which students were taken on a extended weekend-long bus trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; twenty-year-old Ari Norris wrote a life-changing letter to nationally recognized sculptor Gary Casteel.
Being the last living artist to produce a monument on the expansive Gettysburg National Military Park, Casteel served as one of the course's several in-person "experiences." The group of students joined Gary for an on-site presentation at his sculpture of General James Longstreet, followed by a studio visit to view works in progress.
In the weeks following the meeting, Norris began drafting a request to Gary - to become the seventy-year-old artist's first-ever apprentice. Upon receiving Norris' letter, the pair had a life-changing phone call.
Norris would go on to join Casteel in Pennsylvania for two subsequent summer-sessions, by the end of which saw the groundwork being laid for Norris' first bronze commission, the Doris Rucks Memorial Sculpture at Muskegon Community College.
Norris has recently completed Band Together, his largest commission to date, on October 20th, 2023. Representing Muskegon Heights High School's tradition of exuberantly high-stepping Marching Band Drum Majors, this double life-size sculpture is a prominent feature of Rowan Park and the surrounding community.
Band Together - Marching Band Drum Major, at Rowan Park. Muskegon Heights, MI
Paul Anderson & Lennis Moore Memorial Busts, Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Association. Mt. Pleasant, IA
Denny Craycraft Memorial Sculpture, Vietnam Era U.S. Soldier, and K-9 War Dog, at Denny Craycraft Veterans Freedom Park. Belding, MI
Clarence Zylman, Muskegon's Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Memorial Sculpture, at LST 393 Veterans Museum. Muskegon, MI
Doris Rucks Memorial Sculpture, at Muskegon Community College. Muskegon, MI
R. David Zerhusen Bas-Relief, Catholic Order of Foresters National Headquarters. Naperville, IL
Second summer-long apprenticeship with sculptor Gary Casteel. Gettysburg, PA
First summer-long apprenticeship with sculptor Gary Casteel. Gettysburg, PA
O'Riley, Andy. Muskegon Channel. “Boogie Woogie Bugler Memorial Statue Unveiling.” muskegonchannel.com.