Edward J. Fraughton

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Edward J. Fraughton
Self Portrait Ed Fraughton.jpg
Edward J. Fraughton, self-portrait
Born(1939-03-22)March 22, 1939
EducationUniversity of Utah
Known forSculpture

Edward J. Fraughton (born March 22, 1939, Park City, Utah) is an American artist, sculptor, and inventor. He is primarily known for his epic monumental works and individual collector editions that often relate to the history of the American West. Fraughton's stylistic goals follow the American Neo-classic/Beaux-Arts, impressionistic realism traditions of J. Q. A. Ward, Henry Merwin Shrady, James Earle Fraser, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint Gaudens, Cyrus Dallin, Gutzon and Solon Borglum, and American animaliers Arthur Putnam, Edward Kemeys, Phimister Proctor. A literal sculptor with an academic background in design and human anatomy, Fraughton's versatility covers a broad spectrum of human and animal subjects.


Fraughton attended Marsac Elementary School and in 1957 graduated from Park City High School. Entering the University of Utah as a civil engineering student, Fraughton later changed his major to sculpture and graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.[1] While there, he studied, served as a student teaching assistant, assisted in the gross anatomy lab and did his post graduate work under the legendary Dr. Avard T. Fairbanks and his son, Justin. He also played baritone horn in the university marching and concert bands.

Professional career[edit]

Following his formal education, which he largely financed by working night shifts at local steel fabrication plant, Fraughton struggled to make ends meet by working in sales, serving as a substitute high school teacher, driving truck as a delivery boy and laboring as a foundry worker in a local bronze casting facility. In 1966, he was hired by Thiokol Chemical Corporation to apply his artistic training at the newly opened Job Corps Center in Clearfield, Utah. Managed by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), Job Corps was an initiative launched by the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration to fight the "War on Poverty". After the first year of operations, on August 22, 1967, Fraughton received a letter from W. C. Hearnton, Assistant Director of Avocational Training, stating in part:

"For nearly three months after reporting for work here at Clearfield, he (referring to Fraughton) was the only member of the Arts and Crafts Department. During this three-month period, he wrote and secured OEO approval for the curriculum that we are now offering to our Corpsmen population.

"Out of the one hundred and fifty (150) Job Corps Centers located throughout the United States, our program is viewed by OEO as the best in existence. In no small measure, the success of our program can be attributed to the professional competence and know-how of Mr. Fraughton."

Resigning from the Job Corps in 1967 to launch his full-time career as a professional sculptor, Fraughton's first sculpture commission involved creating a series of historical portraits for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1968 he was commissioned by the Sons of Utah Pioneers and Mormon Battalion associations to create a heroic monument commemorating the historic Mormon Battalion trek from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to San Diego during the 1846–1847 Mexican–American War. His heroic 12-foot monumental Mormon Battalion Soldier stands at the highest point in San Diego's Presidio Park.

National recognition began to mount in 1973 when Fraughton was awarded his first gold medal at the National Academy of Western Art[2] for his sculpture entitled, "Where Trails End." Awards from the National Sculpture Society, National Academy of Design and other prestigious art organizations soon followed. In 1980, Fraughton was selected to create the inaugural medal for President Ronald Reagan.[3] During his eight years in office, a copy of "Where Trails End" was exhibited in President Reagan's private office in the White House. The same piece is now on permanent display at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Recent sculpture projects[edit]

One of Fraughton's most recent works involves a ten-year collaborative effort with fellow sculptors, Kent Ullberg and Blair Buswell. Commissioned by the First National Bank of Omaha,[4] the heroic bronze installation titled, "Nebraska Wilderness" and "Pioneer Courage," depicts an historic pioneer wagon train moving west through Nebraska's wilderness during the mid-19th century. Encountering a herd of wild American bison, the animals quickly turn and run through the city streets toward the Bank's new 40-story office building. As the buffalo approach an elevated pond and fountain facing the building's front entrance, a flock of Canada geese explode from the water, fly around the surrounding air space and through the windows of a glassed-in atrium housing the building's historic facade. The geese slowly morph from traditional bronze into modern polished stainless steel as they enter the building. The artistic effect and integration of all elements create a unique and startling effect in the world of contemporary realist sculpture. This project is the largest single installation of monumental sculpture in North America, the linear space covering an area of approximately five city blocks.

Another more recently completed monument depicts an ancient ancestral rock-climbing Puebloan Indian descending a sheer narrow column of sandstone with a basket of corn. Indicative of the ancient cliff-dweller culture of the American Southwest, the twenty-foot high monument graces the new Visitor's Center and Museum entrance into Mesa Verde National monument near Cortez, Colorado.


Following a mid-air collision over the Salt Lake Valley in 1987 that destroyed two airplanes and claimed ten lives, Fraughton, a pilot, invented and patented[5] a new technology for tracking aircraft. This technology, now most popularly known as ADS-B, uses GPS satellite tracking to find and report aircraft positions. Fraughton's U.S. Patent, (Patent Number 5,153,836)[6] and foreign patents[7] were issued in 1992. Subsequently, he served on several committees associated with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), most notably the original ADS committee and Special Committee 186[8] of the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics. ADS-B has recently been announced as the FAA's system of choice to upgrade and replace the outdated radar based air traffic control technology.

In the field of sculpture, Fraughton has developed an improved method for enlarging his sculpture into monumental scale. Using digital imaging and CNC cutting, his technique allows positive clay components to be produced to any scale with greater integrity, thus improving efficiency during the direct modeling stage.

Public service[edit]



  • 2010 National Sculpture Society, Henry Hering Memorial Medal, "Pioneer Courage Monument"
  • 2010 Director's Award, Springville Spring Salon, "Prairie Lullaby"
  • 2010 Award Of Excellence, American Society of Landscape Architects, "Pioneer Courage Monument"
  • 2004 People's Choice Award, Prix de West, "Home is Where the Heart Is"
  • 1993 Gold Medal, National Academy of Western Art, "The Candidate"[2]
  • 1992 Silver Medal, National Academy of Western Art, "The Taste of Honey"[2]
  • 1987 Gold Medal, National Academy of Western Art, "... One Nation ..."[2]
  • 1985 "Greenwich Workshop Award," Museum of the Rockies
  • 1984 "Experience the West Award," Museum of the Rockies
  • 1983 "Honors in the Arts Award," Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
  • 1981 "The Tallix Foundry Prize" National Sculpture Society, "Spirit of Man"
  • 1981 "Artist of the West," San Dimas Festival of Western Arts.
  • 1980 "Outstanding Utah Artist Award," Snowbird Institute
  • 1979 "Lance International Prize," National Sculpture Society, "Waterlilies"
  • 1979 "Ellin P. Speyer Prize," National Academy of Design, "The Last Arrow"
  • 1977 Gold Medal, National Academy of Western Art, "Anasazi"[2]
  • 1975 Gold Medal, National Academy of Western Art, "The Last Farewell"[2]
  • 1973 Gold Medal, National Academy of Western Art, "Where Trails End"[2]
  • 1949 1st Place, Milton Bradley "America the Beautiful" Crayon Art Competition (Utah)


Print and film appearances[edit]

  • Saving America - I – II – III Steps to Saving America, October 2016
  • Kindred Spirits II - On the Road to Modernism, 2008
  • Story of the Leanin' Tree, Art and Enterprise in the American West, Leanin' Tree, Inc., 2008
  • Western Traditions, Contemporary Artists of the American West, Fresco Fine Art Pub, 2005
  • Davenport's Art Reference, 2005
  • Art of the West, July/August 2002
  • Art of the West Guidebook, 2001
  • Leading the West, Hagarty, 1997
  • Southwest Art Magazine, May 1993
  • Art of the West, February 6, 1991
  • Ricks College Centennial Calendar Cover, 1988–1989
  • Lodestar Magazine, Winter 1988
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming Telephone Directory Cover, 1987
  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazine, April 1986
  • This People Magazine, May 1985
  • Profiles in American Art Film, PBS television series; Ken Meyer, 1982
  • Men of Achievement International Biographical Center, Cambridge, Eng., 1982
  • Contemporary Western Artists, Samuels; Southwest Art Publishing, 1982
  • Southwest Art Magazine, October 1982
  • Art West Magazine, August/September 1982
  • The Rotarian Magazine, August 1982
  • American Artists of Renown, 1981–1982
  • Expression Magazine, July 1981
  • Treasures of the American West, Harrison Eiteljorg; Balance House, 1981
  • Time Magazine, December 19, 1980
  • U.S. News & World Report, December 22, 1980
  • Artists of the Rockies and the Golden West Magazine, Spring 1980
  • Who's Who in American Art, Bowker, 1976–2004
  • Town & Country Magazine, January 1977
  • Cowboy, Whitney Museum Catalog, 1975
  • Bronzes of the American West, Patricia Broder; Abrams, 1975
  • Persimmon Hill Magazine, Volumes 3, #3, #4; 5, #4, 1974


External links[edit]