David Crockett Bust Unveiled At Tennessee State Capitol

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
House Majority Leaders Gerald McCormick and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris unveil the David Crockett bust
House Majority Leaders Gerald McCormick and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris unveil the David Crockett bust
- photo by TN State Photography Services

A bust of legendary Tennessean David Crockett was unveiled on Tuesday, December 6, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and former House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 505 in 2014 to place the bust on the second floor of the State Capitol Building, outside the House of Representatives Chamber across from the bust of Andrew Johnson.

“I thought it was appropriate that we should have two former members of the legislative body watch over us as we enter and leave the chamber,” said Mr. McCormick.

As indicated in the Senate Joint Resolution 505, David Crockett is one of Tennessee’s most notable sons, due in large part to his legendary volunteerism. He is revered as a pioneer, frontiersman, public servant, statesman, backwoods orator, and most of all, a man of the people.

“From the Nolichucky River in the East to the Mississippi River in the West, David Crockett was a man of the people. He fought for freedom and independence until the day he died. And, in that sense, he was not unlike some who serve here today. He was a man of his time and for all time, a true Tennessean,” said Mr. Norris.

The lawmakers were joined by members of the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Tennessee State Museum and the Office of the State Architect on behalf of the State Capitol Commission. Antonio (Toby) Mendez, the artist who created the bust, was also in attendance. Mendez said he was honored to have the opportunity to memorialize this Tennessee hero.

"My signature is on the bust, but the lasting thing is that it will be here for a very long time. There is such permanence about a bronze sculpture and it's going to be part of storytelling for generations to come. There is a great deal of pride I have in that as an artist," said Mr. Mendez.

Mr. Mendez has been a working sculptor for over 30 years. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and studied art in Madrid, Spain. Among many others, his works include: the Mohandas Gandhi Memorial in Long Island, NY; President Theodore Roosevelt for the National Park Service, Buffalo, NY; Hall of Fame Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski for Fenway Park in Boston, MA; a bronze portrait of Sidney Kimmel for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA; and a sculpture of Danny Thomas for Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.

“Toby’s references from his past works all noted he was extensive in his research, and had great attention for detail, but his real gift is his ability to bring sculptures to life,” said Anne B. Pope, executive director for the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The Tennessee Arts Commission announced a national call to artists in early 2016, which resulted in 43 applicants representing 24 states. A selection committee evaluated all the applicants based on artistic excellence, artistic vision, project management and Tennessee connection. The committee unanimously selected Mr. Mendez for the commission.

Tennessee hero David Crockett was born in Limestone, Greene County. Recognized and idolized as a true Renaissance man, he was a farmer, frontiersman, sharpshooter, lieutenant, town commissioner, writer and legislator. He will always be remembered as a heroic participant in the Battle of the Alamo, in which he made the ultimate sacrifice of his life to preserve the independence of the Republic of Texas.

“No single historical individual captures the essence of Tennessee better than David Crockett.  He lived in each Grand Division of the state, he was a self-made man who served in public office, and he gave his life fighting for the independence of Texas from the dictatorial rule of General Santa Anna.  He is one of the most publicly loved figures from our state, and we are proud to have him represented in our Capitol for his service to the people of Tennessee,” commented Jim Hoobler, Senior Curator of Art & Architecture at the Tennessee State Museum and Curator of the State Capitol Building.

The David Crockett bust can be viewed on the second floor of the Capitol, which is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Capitol is closed weekends and holidays. During Legislative sessions, the hours the Capitol is open to the public are extended if either of the two houses of the Legislature is still in session. Visit capitol.tn.gov/about/capitolvisit.html for more information.

In 1794, when Mr. Crockett was eight, his father opened a tavern in Morristown and in 1811 Crockett moved to Middle Tennessee. In 1813 he volunteered to fight in the Creek Indian War and was later appointed a lieutenant. From 1817 to 1820 Mr. Crockett served as a magistrate for Lawrence County.

He entered the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1821 to represent Lawrence and Hickman counties, which at that time was located in Murfreesboro, the provisional capitol of Tennessee. He was re-elected in 1823, but defeated in 1825. Mr. Crockett was then elected to the United States House of Representatives, representing West Tennessee in 1827. He won a second term in 1829 and served until 1831. He lost that election after vehemently opposing Andrew Jackson’s policies regarding land reform and the Indian Removal bill. 

Mr. Crockett was re-elected in 1833 but defeated in 1835. It was at this point that the Tennessee icon moved to Texas, ultimately dying at the Alamo during the fight for independence from Mexico. 

Joe Swann, Crocket Statute Commission member; Anne B. Pope, Tennessee Arts Commission executive director; Antonio Mendez, artist; House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick; Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris; Representative Ron Travis.
Joe Swann, Crocket Statute Commission member; Anne B. Pope, Tennessee Arts Commission executive director; Antonio Mendez, artist; House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick; Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris; Representative Ron Travis.
- Photo2 by TN State Photography Services


Baseball Legend Cal Ripken, Jr., Music, Larger-Than-Life-Sized Balloons Highlight Pigeon Forge’s New Music In The Mountains Spring Parade On May 4

With Cal Ripken, Jr. leading the way, Pigeon Forge’s (Tennessee) new Music in the Mountains spring parade is set for May 4 at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on the city’s Parkway with entries from Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia plus several new elements to extend the celebration into the weekend.   Mr. Ripken, a member of the National Baseball Hall ... (click for more)

This Week’s Tennessee Tourism Round Up

Spend a date night around the campfire, experience a 3D Rolling Stones’ concert, find out the latest runway fashions, interact with dinosaurs, savor barbecue or a slawburger and take a Tennessee Whiskey adventure. Here’s what’s going on across Tennessee this week. For a complete list of events, visit tnvacation.com/calendar. Ongoing  Nashville – Fifty photos in ... (click for more)

Federal Funding Allocated For Future Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Tennessee State Veterans Home Executive Director Ed Harries announced the receipt of the $26,224,263 award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) State Veterans Home Grants program today. The grant will provide the federal funding needed to build the future Bradley County ... (click for more)

VA Issues Water And Road Traffic Cautions In Areas Of Savannah Creek, Harrison Bay And Chickamauga Marina

The Tennessee Valley Authority is issuing water and road traffic cautions for transmission line work that will span from just north of Savannah Creek to Chickamauga Dam. This work is part of several projects to upgrade TVA’s transmission system to ensure continued delivery of 99.999 percent reliable power. Area residents should expect to see helicopters working in this area ... (click for more)

A Tribute For My Brother – Sgt. Jonathan Gardner, U.S. Army

Seven years ago today, my family and I found out that my brother, Sgt. Jonathan D. Gardner, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, (explosively formed penetrator - EFP), while on a mission in Kuwait. The EFP went through the bottom of his seat and put a softball size hole in his upper thigh. The doctors said that if the bomb had entered the Humvee an inch to the right, he ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Black Telephone

If you have never seen one in an antique store you wouldn’t know that the first telephones were contained in a not-so-small wooden box that had a snout-looking mouth piece and a separate speaker that you would hold on your ear while you talked. This was many years ago when phones were fun as compared to today’s tiny cell phones that rudely interrupt us from the task-at-hand both ... (click for more)