You could say that master sculptor Frederick Kail is “the man with the bronze touch” who immortalized the “Man with the Golden Arm,” NFL great and his dear friend, Johnny Unitas. Kail’s statue of Unitas was installed outside M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in 2002. His bronze of celebrated Raven’s linebacker Ray Lewis was unveiled last month just a few feet away from Johnny’s, amidst fanfare approaching Super Bowl level fervor. By any measure, Kail is an artist of extraordinary range, talent, and grace. His remarkable professional career kicked off right out of college. For 35 years, he headed his own firm, Telesis, Inc., which became one of Baltimore’s leading design firms specializing in corporate identity, packaging and multi-image production. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) on a Senatorial Scholarship, Kail majored in Communication Design. While also studying fine art, he formally studied sculpture for only one year. Ironically, he recalls that he enjoyed sculpture, but was convinced it held little future opportunity. Kail also is a hot ticket in collectible professional sports figures. He is credited with creating his “Joe Jolter” figurine as a Baltimore Colt in 1956. It became a first in the NFL and later, depicted in the colors of all 12 teams, became a first to be licensed by the NFL in 1963.The now iconic “Joe” was created on a lark during college. As a sideline, the original hand-painted versions of “Joe” helped the artist pay expenses through college. In 2010, Kail accompanied “Joe” on a road trip for the statuette’s induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Nothing of any greatness happens without passion, a commitment to excellence, and attention to meticulous detail,” Kail declares. This is unforgettably evident as to both artist and subject in his capture of Ray’s power and legacy moves, to the meticulous detail of Johnny’s signature double-knot shoelace. Unitas. Lewis. What’s next? We’ve heard there’s a 30” clay model of Lenny Moore in Kail’s studio. Click here to read the full interview.
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