Sculpture by Nevada County artist wins 1st place in national competition |

Sculpture by Nevada County artist wins 1st place in national competition

Bill and Camille Hald with Bill Hald's sculpture "We the People," which won first place in a national competition.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

The dream kept recurring for Bill Hald.

For three nights he saw an eagle perched atop some books — an image that would become one of his sculptures.

An Alta Sierra resident for almost three decades, the Navy veteran already had an ongoing project. He didn’t necessarily need another.

The eagle in his dreams stayed persistent. Hald discarded his existing project to focus on what would win first place in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in the sculpture category. He’s since been honored with formal recognition by U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa in the Congressional Record.

“The main thing is grateful,” Hald said. “Grateful would sum it up.”

The dream that led to the competition win came to Hald about five years ago. It grabbed his attention and soon developed into a clear image — an eagle standing on four books, its beak open, angry.

The topmost book is the Bible. The eagle’s right claw rests on it. The bottom three books represent the federal government’s three branches: Legislative, Executive and Judicial.

Hald said he was angry with the state of the country and the eagle shows that anger. It watches for both foreign and domestic enemies of the nation. The piece, weighing about 120 pounds, is titled “We The People.”

Hald performs the molding, casting and welding for his pieces.

“I do everything in-house here,” he said. “I’ve told friends that I do everything, except grow the tree for the wood base.”

Health concerns that led Hald to Reno early this year sparked an interest in submitting the artwork to the contest. Leaving the city, Hald’s wife Camille spotted a billboard advertising the art competition. He opted to enter “We The People” in the local contest, winning first place.

“It was then that I realized that this was bigger than I thought,” Hald said.

Nine months of competition followed, with Hald’s sculpture advancing to the regional and then national levels. He’d use the Grass Valley UPS store to ship his weighty artwork and praised Dave Elliott, that store’s owner, who helped ship the bronze sculpture.

Hald’s anticipation grew with each win, and he began to realize he truly wanted the top prize.

Then, on Oct. 16, he got it.

“To have the VA recognize me was a big honor,” he said. “I got goose bumps.”

“As the wife, I’m so proud,” Camille Hald said.

Another honor came when LaMalfa, whose congressional district includes Grass Valley, recognized Hald in the Congressional Record.

“Bill Hald has proven to be a true patriot through his dedication to service in the United States Navy after a decorated tour of duty aboard the U.S.S. Ramsey in the Western Pacific,” LaMalfa said in an email. “His commitment and passion for our country did not come to an end when his time in the Navy concluded. Upon returning home, his symbolic sculptures and artwork have been an inspiration to many who share his love of country. I am proud to call him a son of the North State.”

Bill Hald has a new project, though he’s keeping its details secret. He intends to meet a mid-February contest entry deadline for the new piece.

“It’s been a heck of a ride,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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