Robert Mihaly

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Robert Mihaly
Born (1967-01-08) January 8, 1967 (age 50)
Akron, Ohio
Nationality American
Known for Conceptual art, sculpture, painting
Patron(s) Duke University, East Carolina University, US Postal Service

Robert Aaron Mihaly (born January 8, 1967) is an American stone sculptor, conceptual artist, and painter.

Life and career[edit]

Robert Mihaly was born in Akron, Ohio. Largely self-educated, he abandoned an art/honors scholarship at Kent State University to relocate to North Carolina.[1][2] At the age of 21, he was awarded $10,000 in a national college entrepreneur contest.[3] His business plan to design and sell artistic architectural ornaments was selected from 600 other proposals.[3]

In 1996–97, Mihaly was the Artist in Residence at Washington National Cathedral, the country's second-largest cathedral.[4] Mihaly and the church encountered a stumbling block: the 24,000-pound (11,000 kg) Vermont marble block Mihaly was transforming into an angel. The cathedral came to think of the stone and scaffolding as an eyesore and safety hazard. The cathedral removed the structure, leaving Mihaly unable to work. Mihaly unsuccessfully sued the cathedral in small-claims court for breach of contract.[5]

In 2002, Duke University commissioned Mihaly for the first gargoyles at Duke since the construction of the Gothic-styled West Campus.[6] The University commissioned the gargoyles to honor Aubrey and Kathleen McClendon, a couple who gave $5.5 million for a new dorm.[7] The Gothic west campus has more than 100 gargoyles perched upon buildings to ward off evil spirits. But these two sculptures "ended up spooking the wealthy donors they were intended to honor",[6] and were subsequently removed from the building.



Mihaly's sculptural work includes angels,[8][9] gargoyles,[6][10] an elaborate gothic mausoleum,[11] and four tractor-trailer loads of stonework that he carved for a miniature Renaissance villa.[1][2]

Mihaly's collection of gargoyles from popular town and gown characters of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sit atop the restaurant, Top of the Hill, overlooking central crossroads of Franklin and Columbia Streets.[10] Each gargoyle sports UNC rams horns. The characters include athletic legends Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, and Julius Peppers as well as the street's namesake, Ben Franklin.[10][12]

Client Elizabeth Edwards and her husband, Senator John Edwards commissioned Mihaly to carve the headstone of their deceased son, Wade, out of a 24,000 pound block of Vermont marble.[1][8] Elizabeth Edwards was "enchanted and confused" by the "weird and wonderful" artist, yet felt the sculpture of an angel caressing her child was "extraordinary".[8] The 10-foot (3.0 m) tall monument rests in Raleigh's Historic Oakwood Cemetery, the site of burial for governors, U.S. senators and 2,800 Confederate war veterans.[13] Mihaly also designed the monument in Historic Oakwood Cemetery for Elizabeth Edwards after her death in 2010 from breast cancer.[14]

Conceptual Art[edit]

During the March 7, 2009 opening of Mihaly's Duke University solo exhibit at the Louise Jones Brown Gallery, A Pantheon of Modern Gods: An Anthropological Expedition into Corridors of Power, Mihaly paced the gallery, lecturing with a small sculpture titled Cherub cradled in his arms, in front of visitors.[15] All the works in the exhibition were accompanied by quotations.[16]

The Gallery manager Rachel Pea described the art as "edgy" and "one of the more in-your-face sort of exhibits" since it challenges the viewer's ideas on the fabric of society: war, politics, money and religion.[17]

Mihaly's work "conveys illuminating social commentary"[16] about "frightening political possibilities."[16] The Goddess of Eugenics is an oil on linen replication of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, except Venus's body is pierced with bullet holes and dripping authentic blood.[16] The Zephyrs blow symbols of radiation and biohazard waste rather than the west wind.[16] Mihaly's description of the painting alludes to intricate plots by world leaders to cleanse the population.[clarification needed][16]


Mihaly's former part-time country estate and studio is called Castle Mont Rouge.[2][18] The castle, located on Red Mountain in Rougemont, North Carolina, features onion domes like Eastern Orthodox churches and oxidized copper cupolas.[11][19]
Currently, as of April 29, 2012 this castle is abandoned and in dilapidated condition. [20]

Mihaly hand-carved a gothic limestone mausoleum for patron Ralph Falls.[21] The structure was inspired by an historic crypt located in Jedburgh, Scotland. This monument is located in Forest Hills Cemetery, Morganton, NC.[11][21]


Clients include universities, banks, states, foundations, cities, businesses, congressmen, hotels and doctors.[21] These clients include NationsBank World Headquarters,[1] W. R. Kenan Charitable Trust[18] East Carolina University,[18] Duke University,[2] the City of Raleigh, NC[18] the Commonwealth of Virginia,[2] the U.S. Postal Service,[22] the State of North Carolina,[18] and Senator John and Elizabeth Edwards.[8][13]


  1. ^ a b c d Wall Street Journal, September 29, 1997. pg. A.1
  2. ^ a b c d e The Durham News (N&O), A Castle Takes Shape in Rougemont, Elizabeth Shestak, Nov 3–4, 2007. pg. A.1
  3. ^ a b Wall Street Journal, "North Carolina Freshman Wins Entrepreneur Contest," February 23, 1988, p. 1
  4. ^ Bill Miller, "Carved In Controversy; Cathedral Wins Battle With Artist, Washington Post, 2 October 1997
  5. ^ "Cathedral didn't break contract with artist, judge holds in ruling", Wall Street Journal, October 2, 1997, p. C5
  6. ^ a b c Augusta Chronicle, Duke Donors Reject Gargoyles , November 10, 2002
  7. ^ "Athens Banner-Herald", Duke to take down gargoyles modeled after wealthy donors, by Aaron Beard, November 9, 2002.
  8. ^ a b c d Edwards,Elizabeth (September 2006). Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers. Broadway. ISBN 0-7679-2537-8. 
  9. ^ Inside Oakdale, Watching Over Him Again, Summer, 2007 by Catherine Solomon and Eric Kozen
  10. ^ a b c Chapel Hill News, "Targoyles", by Dave Hart, September 7, 2003. pg. C.1
  11. ^ a b c Metro Magazine, Robert Mihaly: Renaissance Sculptor in Person County, August, 2005 by Diane Lea
  12. ^ Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, "Holiday Window Display Winner", by Liz Parham , December 8, 2006.
  13. ^ a b The Charlotte Observer, "Soaring Success, Crushing Loss" Anna Griffin, August 19, 2003
  14. ^
  15. ^ Artdaily, Gods of Power and Greed Clash with Human Bones and Depleted Uranium at Duke Art Show, March 30, 2009
  16. ^ a b c d e f Claire Finch, "Mihaly Offers Send-up of Modern Idolatry in Sculpture" The Duke Chronicle, Paintings, March 26, 2009
  17. ^ News and Observer, Artist Gives an Edge to His Study of Power, March 8, 2009 by Elizabeth Shestak
  18. ^ a b c d e Rougemont Reporter, Castle Mont Rouge, Summer, 2006, P.10
  19. ^ This Month at Duke, A Secret Spot, by Sally Hicks, August 2007, cover story
  20. ^ Visited the property today April 29, 2012 and took photos
  21. ^ a b c News Herald, Editorial: Photographing The Fallsoleum by Allen VanNoppen, Sunday, August 14, 2005.
  22. ^ Artist's site: Patrons

External links[edit]