The lion returns to Alderson


A life-sized lion sculpture by Michael Loop was installed in Alderson on May 23. The project was managed by Melinda Russell, chair of Alderson Main Street’s Public Art Committee and funded by the Hamilton Family Foundation.

Almost everyone in Alderson and even beyond knows the story of the lion cub who was born and raised there. His exploits caused the Town Council to pass an ordinance saying that any lion roaming the town streets must be on a leash!

In recent years Alderson has been using the lion as a “brand” for the town. Lions have appeared everywhere from public properties to private spaces. Melinda Russell conceived the idea of having a large lion sculpture as a centerpiece of the town. She requested and received a grant from the Hamilton Family Foundation and soon located a sculptor.

Michael Loop is an artist, currently living in Morgantown. After receiving his BFA from West Virginia University in 1998, Loop travelled extensively around the United States assisting several artists to include Albert Paley, Christopher Weed, Paul Knoblauch, Sean Calyer, Shoji Satake and Jason Lee, honing a multi-faceted understanding of material and process. After a 12 year sabbatical from academia, he returned to West Virginia University, under the guidance of a fresh faculty to receive his MFA with a concentration in sculpture in 2013. The decision to return to academia was a conscious decision to allow an investigation into his personal aesthetic and process.

As Loop’s work has grown in sophistication, his exhibition record has accelerated as well. To date, he has shown extensively around the country, including exhibitions in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and West Virginia.

Currently Loop serves as an adjunct lecturer at West Virginia and Fairmont State Universities teaching foundation art classes in drawing, 2D and 3D design, and upper level classes in sculpture and multi-media. Along with his teaching duties, he also serves as the preparator for the Mesaros Galleries in the Creative Arts Center at West Virginia University under the curatorial direction of Robert Bridges.

Passersby slowed down to have a good look during the installation and a lot of memory was used in cell phone cameras. Loop explained to the group that he had used a lot of motorcycle parts to create the lion and got “a bit carried away” with the tail. He even fashioned a leash for the lion. The springs in the legs convey a sense of coiled energy and the hip joints seem to almost work.

Russell said, “I am thrilled with the finished product. To see muscles translated into metal and still convey such a sense of movement is the mark of an excellent sculptor.

I think this lion will bring smiles to many faces.”

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