Ulysses Grant Speed
|Died||October 1, 2011 (aged 81)|
|Residence||Lindon, Utah County|
|Education||Brigham Young University|
|Occupation||Sculptor, former school teacher|
Speed was born in San Angelo in Tom Green County, Texas, where as a youth he concentrated on riding and roping and hence showed little evidence of his later passion for art. Throughout high school and for several years afterwards, Speed spent summers as a cowboy on his Uncle Boone's ranch (also the namesake of his only son, Boone Speed). He worked on other ranches, including the 4 Sixes and the King Ranch, and became an accomplished horse breaker. He was a rodeo contestant competing in the bareback and bull riding events, until he sustained a leg injury.
In 1948, Speed began a two-year stint in the newly organized United States Air Force serving as an airplane mechanic during the Korean War. Thereafter, he completed a Spanish-speaking mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he met and married the former Sue Collins in 1958. In 1959, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from BYU.
Before he became a full-time artist, Speed supported his family as an elementary school teacher in Salt Lake City but residing in Provo. "Having come from conservative West Texas, I really wanted to be the world's best cowboy. Yet every time I got a chance to be around any kind of western art, I couldn't stop reading about it, looking at it, and studying it", Speed said.
When Speed began working on his art, he kept the matter confidential from all but his wife. His first sculpture was completed in an art class at BYU. It was at BYU that he met the cowboy artist and sculptor Earl Bascom. Bascom happened to also be taking a BYU art class and knew members of the Speed family when he was rodeoing in the Deep South. Bascom critiqued Speed's first sculpture and gave him encouragement.
Speed also became associated with another local western artist, Hughes Curtis. Curtis had set up one of Utah's first bronze casting operations in Springville where both sculptors cast their own creations. Later, Speed set up his own foundry in Lindon, Utah with the help of his assistant, John Bascom. John Bascom, the son of cowboy artist and sculptor Earl Bascom, was an art student at BYU who had helped set up BYU's first bronze casting foundry and who was a master mold maker. Bascom was used as a model on horseback or in a saddle for some of Speed's sculptures.
For eight years Speed continued teaching school, but then left that profession to devote full-time to his art. In 1965, Speed joined the professional art group, the Cowboy Artists of America, serving as president and winning many of its awards.
Speed considers each of his bronze sculptures "an original, because in any edition none of the sculptures are exactly the same." His fellow artists recognize Speed not only for his art, but his character and faith. Despite his success in art, Speed comments that at times he still misses the cowboy ways of his youth.
Speed has exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Whitney Gallery of Western Art in Cody, Wyoming. Among his awards is the Gold Medal for Sculpture from Cowboy Artists of America and the Prix de West Award from the National Academy of Western Art, affiliated with the formerly named National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Some of his work can be found in the Whitney Gallery of Western Art and the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. The Texas Tech exhibits were formerly at the Diamond M Museum in Snyder, Texas, which closed in 1992.
His bronze equestrian sculpture "Night Ridin'" is displayed in the permanent art collection in the historic district of St. George, Utah. His sculpture entitled "A Stop at the Line Camp" sells for $4,800.
Speed's sculpture of legendary Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight is housed in the Square House Museum in Panhandle, Texas. In 2010, another of Speed's sculptures of Goodnight sold at auction for $5,400.
Speed's 1980 sculpture of legendary Texas musician Buddy Holly is still on display at the Walk of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. The Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum inducted Speed into their Hall of Fame in 2014.
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- "2010 March Auction". altermann.com. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
- "Hall of Fame Inductees - Grant Speed". Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. utahcowboymuseum.org. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
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|url=(help), Houston, vol. 34 no. . 11, pp. 104 (2)
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|url=(help), Chicago, p. 1
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|url=(help), Salt Lake City, Utah, pp. B.8