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Local artist celebrates anniversary of Archie sculpture



VALERY
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A life-sized bronze sculpture of comic book icon, Archie Andrews, revealed in Meredith, New Hampshire one year ago, was created by local artist Valery Mahuchy in Bethlehem. Mahuchy is seen here with the maquette, or miniature model of what would become the final piece. (Photo by John Hession — Courtesy) (click for larger version)
August 01, 2019
BETHLEHEM — Local sculptor Valery Mahuchy prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of his now-famous, life-sized sculpture of the comic book star, Archie Andrews on August 9. Commissioned in 2017 by a subcommittee of the Greater Meredith Program, Valery spent two years bringing the iconic American comic book character to life. The sculpture was revealed at a well-attended ceremony in 2018 and has been featured in numerous national publications.

Bob Montana, who created the original likeness of the characters in Archie comics had long called Meredith, New Hampshire his home before passing away in 1975. First published in 1942, the Archie characters would end up being featured in more than 750 newspapers and capture the imagination of children for more than 30 years.

Originally from Vitebsk, a city in Belarus, Valery Mahuchy moved to America a few years ago and settled into a working studio at 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center in Bethlehem. He demonstrates a diverse range of sculptural styles from fluid and abstract to realistic, three-dimensional portraiture of both humans and animals. He works in bronze, resin, clay and marble and creates two-dimensional paintings as well.

A master sculptor, Mahuchy had been creating artwork from a variety of materials for more than a quarter-century before winning the bid to create a life-sized model of Archie out of bronze. Unlike most Americans, Mahuchy did not grow up with Archie comics as part of his life, but he quickly understood the importance of the character as part of the mid-century American experience.

"I think every sculpture is important, but this one carries strong memories," said Mahuchy.

When applying for the bid, Mahuchy submitted two different poses. One featured Archie reclining on a large bench and the other featured Archie stepping out of the pages of a comic book. The committee, which included Bob Montana's daughter Lynn, ultimately chose the bench version. A custom bench was delivered to Mahuchy's studio and he began the months-long process of creating Archie out of clay before delivering the model to the Green Foundry in Eliot, Maine.

Today, Mahuchy continues to create realistic portraiture, accepts private commissions and displays his paintings at regional galleries. His work is displayed in museums and private collections in Belarus, America, Isreal, Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine. In addition to the Archie sculpture in Meredith, Mahuchy's bronze Presidential Range chart is also on permanent display outside Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill.

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