| Ulysses Grant Speed
(American sculptor and artist)
|Born|| January 6, 1930 |
San Angelo, Texas, United States
|Died|| October 1, 2011 (aged 81) |
Lindon, Utah County, Utah
|Spouse|| Sue Collins Speed (married 1958-2011, his death)|
|Religion|| The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints |
Speed was born in San Angelo in Tom Green County in west 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] (born 1965). He worked on other ranches, including the 4 Sixes and the King Ranch, and became an accomplished horse breaker. He competed in rodeo 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 dedicated three years of his life completing a Spanish-speaking mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While attending the Mormon institution, Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, he met and married in 1958 at the Salt Lake Temple the former Sue Collins (born 1937). They had two daughters, Peggy Sue (born 1959) and Samantha (born 1973) and the middle child, their son, Boone (born 1965). In 1959, Speed 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.
Artist and sculptor
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 Wesley Bascom (1906-1995). 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, who 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 Allen Bascom (born 1948), the son of Earl Bascom. John 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, who resides in Sandy, Utah, 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 left that profession to devote full-time to his art. In 1965, Speed joined the professional art group, the Cowboy Artists of America, founded in 1965 in Sedona, Arizona, serving as president and winning many of its awards. Speed considered each of his bronze sculptures "an original, because in any edition none of the sculptures are exactly the same." His fellow artists recognized 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 also be found in the the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. The Texas Tech exhibits were formerly at the Diamond M Museum in Snyder in Scurry County, which operated from 1964 to 1992, when it closed and sent its exhibits to the Texas Tech Museum.
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" in 2011 sold for $4,800. Speed's sculpture of legendary Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight (1836-1929) is housed in the Square House Museum in the city of 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.
- Meadowlark Gallery: Ulysses Grant Speed. meadowlarkgallery. Retrieved on January 17, 2020.
- Grant Speed (1930-2011). askart.com. Retrieved on January 17, 2020.
- Grant Speed. beauchampwesternart.com. Retrieved on June 25, 2011; no longer accessible on-line.
- H. Allen Anderson. Diamond M Museum. The Texas Historical Association: The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on January 17, 2020.
- Grant Speed. sculptsite.com. Retrieved on June 25, 2011; material no longer accessible on-line.
- 2010 March Auction. altermann.com. Retrieved on January 17, 2020.