Local Artist, Doug McLean Creates “HOPE” Through Sculpture Connected to Galveston’s History

Sculpture, inspired by Pompeo Coppini’s 1904 “Victims of Galveston,” will be placed in Galveston’s new city park located between City Hall and the new Fire Station

Doug McLean has been preserving and honoring Galveston’s history for more than 40 years. His first project was chief blacksmith during the restoration of the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa in 1980. He has worked on many Galveston landmarks through the years and now, he is directing his talent to a sculpture entitled “Hope.”

This sculpture depicts a woman holding an infant with a child clinging to her side as she marches forward over a mound of debris of bricks and timbers.

The determination and emotion is striking. “Hope” is McLean’s interpretation of a plaster study called “Victims of Galveston” created in 1904 by Pompeo Coppini, an Italian born sculptor, who had worked on other projects across the country with many in Texas. The plaster study had been presented to the City of Galveston in 1904 and leaders declined to see the project completed.

“When I first saw the few surviving photos of the sculpture I was struck by the powerful image and the anguish on the face of the female figure,” said McLean. “I felt I needed to challenge myself to create my own interpretation of this lost work.”

He began working on his version molded in plasticine, a clay-based material, in 2016 and estimates he has spent approximately 1,500 hours on the sculpture.

“I want to memorialize those lost in the 1900 Storm and honor the survivors for their strength and courage to move forward and rebuild in what is still considered one of our country’s greatest reconstruction efforts,” he said. “It is also important to me to honor the powerful role of women in our island’s history who through their maternal love, community involvement, philanthropy, strong influence on governmental policies, and emphasis on education in our community all provided the best for future generations.”

McLean is continuing to seek donors to fund the molding and casting of the sculpture. The bronze casting will be done in a foundry in Smithville, TX. “Hope” is set to be installed by the end of the year in the city’s new park located between City Hall and the new Fire Station.

This year marks 120 years since the 1900 Storm devastated Galveston. 

He plans to spend up to another 100 hours to perfect this tribute with details. The sculpture will be placed in the new city park located at 823 Rosenberg.  

To see an interview with i45NOW and McLean, go to https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=349601332720229. Also follow Galveston Sculpture on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Galveston-Sculpture-111369750435884/.

For more information on the “Hope” sculpture, visit www.GalvestonSculpture.com.  Galveston Sculpture is a non-profit organization filed in the State of Texas with 501(c)(3) status pending with the IRS.