No Bull: Bovine Corralled in Body Shop

Sculptor Cheryl Ekstrom and her latest commission. Photo by Jody Tiongco
Sculptor Cheryl Ekstrom and her latest commission.
Photo by Jody Tiongco

In a spray booth at Beach Cities Auto Collision in Laguna Canyon rests a rare breed. Not a Ferrari or a Porsche or even a humble Volkswagen, but the unlikeliest of would-be conveyances, a 400 pound, nine-foot long sculpture of a  bull, ready for the drive to Austin, Tex.

Created by Laguna Beach sculptor Cheryl Ekstrom, the fiberglass beast sports numerous coats of candy apple red paint on its gleaming body while its nose and hooves graduate from a deep black to shimmery tones of gold. Its black glass eyes glimmer with a hint of bovine mischief, while its dagger-like horns owe their gray accented glass swirls to Laguna Beach glass blower Gavin Heath.

Enlisted by Ekstrom to help with her commission, body shop owner Dan Moy and his crew re-enforced the bull’s head and legs with steel and sanded, polished and painted the fiberglass bovine over and over to a finish as flawless as a new Corvette.

Ekstrom is better known for her brass warrior statues such as the trio that preside over the intersection of Laguna’s Broadway Street and Cliff Drive. On a smaller scale, she has created a series of quirky figures she calls “Wayfarers” now dispersed into private collections. Overall, her portfolio spans creatures and creations addressing the human condition.

So what’s up with the red bull? “I had never worked in fiberglass and made an animal that flashy and big, but just try telling me I can’t do something and you can bet I’ll take the challenge,” said Ekstrom.

Her work gained the attention of Michelle Taylor, a client of Seattle’s Hall Spassov Gallery where Ekstrom’s work is also exhibited.

Taylor owns a marketing firm in Austin, where she relocated from Seattle. “When we first saw a huge replica of a longhorn bull in someone’s front yard, right after we moved to Texas, we got this crazy idea we wanted a bull of our own.”

Taylor said that she and her husband commissioned the work for one home, but ultimately intend to place the sculpture in their newer, second house in a room that held the previous owner’s grand piano.

“I wanted something surprising, something typically Texas and yet something spectacular and overstated because that is who we are,” she said. “The piece reflects our own quirkiness and style.”

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