ON THE LAST WEEKEND IN AUGUST, Lemmon-based artist John Lopez unveiled a new sculpture commemorating Hugh Glass, close to the spot where the legendary pioneer nearly lost his battle with an angry grizzly bear. The sculpture — depicting the pivotal moment in the Glass legend — comes at a time of renewed interest in his story,
A film biopic based on Glass’ life is scheduled for release around Christmas . The Revenant, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, features the legend of his fight with the bear, his struggle to survive and his quest to avenge the men who abandoned him for dead.
Having grown up in Lemmon, Lopez understands the fascination with the story. “I think [because of] the fact that it happened so close to our hometown of Lemmon, we have all heard the story since we learned about it in history class," Lopez says. "And every time you drive by Shadehill or Summerville, you’re reminded of it. He’s the ultimate survivor.”
The sculpture was unveiled in front of a crowd gathered for the inaugural Hugh Glass Rendezvous at a South Dakota state recreation area also bearing his name, contiguous to the Shadehill Reservoir and Grand River National Grassland.
“Rendezvous” is the name given to a loose network of outdoor festivals for history buffs, where the facial hair and throwback clothing are reminiscent of modern day Brooklyn, but without the irony or the artisanal pickle stand. And for any group that celebrates the pioneer ethic, it would be hard to find a more rugged embodiment of frontier grit than Glass.
“The life that he had even before he was mauled by the grizzly bear, and then to crawl 200 miles after the grizzly attack, puts him in a category of frontiersman where he has a cult following among rendezvous-ers and historians,” Lopez says.