If you’ve ever wondered who created the grizzly bear that guards the Delaware Museum of Natural History, drive the windy roads to Unionville, Pennsylvania. When you encounter a herd of bronze American bison, several African lions and a few vervet monkeys, you’ll know you’re close to the workplace of master sculptor A. J. “Buddy” Obara Jr.
Obara, a Delaware native, is known across the nation for his works in bronze. His work has been photographed for LIFE magazine, and his sea creatures—including turtles, dolphins and whales—are displayed at Cousteau Society exhibits in Virginia.
Most of Obara’s sculptures are inspired by travels to places such as Tanzania, Nicaragua, Botswana and British Columbia. Obara’s work reflects his deep connection to the natural world. “My pieces are raw, visceral and imperfect,” he says. “They are quick impressions with a little detail.”
Obara’s pieces are actually quite detailed. By “quick impressions” he means the animals are frozen just at the point of movement. His African mountain gorilla looks ready to pounce. His mountain lion rests on a branch, but the intensity in its eyes is mesmerizing.
The list of Obara collectors includes the late Jimmy Stewart, the late Ronald Reagan, Prince Charles of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II.
For decorators who seek a rustic look, Obara’s sculptures make bold statements by bringing the outdoors in. For those who prefer small pieces, he creates items such as dinner bells that resemble mountain lions and gold belt buckles with gorilla faces. The antler chandelier that hangs in his dining room can be duplicated for patrons.
The sculptures work well in dens, cabins, even bedrooms. They are standout features for interior and exterior needs. Perhaps most important is the way the works celebrate the animal kingdom. Says Obara, “They just really put people at ease with nature.”
For more, visit www.ajobara.com.