Sculptor Hopes To Honor Memory Of Rim Country's Marguerite Noble

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The bronze sculpture of area legend Marguerite Noble began as a 1500-degree fiery gob of bronze. That specific method of immortalization seems appropriate for a woman artist Gail describes as a "spitfire."

The sculpture was unveiled Friday, Aug. 1 at Down the Street Art Gallery.

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Artist Gail used a variety of photos of the late Marguerite Noble to create a sculpture honoring the longtime Rim Country resident, author and historian. She says a person's bone structure never changes over the years, so she feels she has been able to capture Noble as she appeared when her most noted work, "Filaree," was published.

Artist Gail -- no last name -- was fortunate enough to know Noble, who died in January 2007, shortly before her 97th birthday.

Noble was known as a town historian, though Gail noted, "she's history itself."

The idea to sculpt Noble came in the shower. Gail says her epiphanies normally come when submerged in water. It makes sense, she says. A relaxed mind is more readily inclined toward inspiration, though perhaps not soon enough.

"I wish I had thought about it when she was still living," Gail said.

Noble was born on Jan. 29, 1910, at the site of what now is Roosevelt Lake, and eventually moved to the Valley for high school since there was none in Rim Country, according to her son, Roger Buchanan.

"The place where she was born," Buchanan said, "is now literally under water."

Noble taught English for 30 years, and went on to write three books, only two of which were published. "She would never let me send (the third one) in because she wanted to read it over one more time."

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The sculpture at far left, "Broken Hobbles," depicts a Western woman. The sculpture above right, "Trusting Nature," offers a glimpse of a traditional Indian woman. Just who this "Sitting Pretty" girl is, above, whether pin-up or older Americana, is up for interpretation.

Noble's handwriting remained impeccable until her death, Buchanan said. In her most famous book, the historical novel "Filaree," Noble tells the story of her mother raising children in the sparsely populated pioneer West. It was published in 1979.

People consider the literature that of a liberated woman, Buchanan said. But, "my mother never sounded like a liberated woman. She was a country woman, so they were sort of born liberated."

Gail fondly remembers Noble's sense of humor.

"Some days she could hear and other days she couldn't," Gail remembered. Gail said she asked Noble about her varying auditory abilities. "She leaned up and said, ‘Honey, do you know how old I am?'"

Noble exhibited the wisdom of one whose life spanned close to a century, Gail said.

She will produce an edition of 30 maquettes, on sale for $4,200 each. Those who order from the gallery receive a 15 percent discount. The discount applies to the Marguerite Noble sculpture only. Maquettes are roughly one-third of life-size.

"I tried to sculpt her somewhere near the age she would have been when she wrote ‘Filaree,'" said Gail.

To determine the sculpture's shape, Gail examined photographs depicting the woman in various stages of her life, as a teenager and an older woman.

"Your bone structure doesn't change," Gail said. "That's what I use, the skeletal measurements to capture somebody."

Gail plans a monument, and said while she hopes to make one for Payson, funding at this time reduces that plausibility. She said she's negotiating with several parties who are interested in buying a monument, but declined to say who.

"She was very loved in this area," Gail said. "If they respond well, it's because hopefully, maybe I've captured a little bit of her."

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