A 1971 Garces High School graduate is giving back to his alma mater in a big way. Chris Folsom grew up to be an artist and sculptor. He's dedicating and donating his latest works, two huge metal rams, to the school.
Folsom who now lives in Bend, Oregon, has spent the last year in Bakersfield, close to Garces. He came back, he says, to give back. And, his thank you will be permanently in place, mounted on Friday.
"I love the eyes," said Folsom of his ram sculptures as he hammered away on steel.
Every part he hammered for the last ten months became a piece... an ear, a hoof, a leg, of the massive puzzles, creating not one, but two stainless steel rams. They are gifts Folsom is giving to his old high school, Garces.
"I was not a model student," admitted Folsom. "I was a good athlete and I had a ton of fun. And, what I found after I graduated is that I learned a whole lot more than what I expected that I would learn."
Those lessons lead Folsom across the country, leaving his mark throughout. There is a sculpture created of ribbons of metal making a woman in the snow he created. There's a running mountain lion in a park made of metal. And, he created a 27-foot mama bear and her cubs for the people of Madras, Oregon to enjoy.
"But, for me as an artist, I'm always taking chances too and fortunately the chances pay off," said Folsom.
On a chance about a year ago, he went back to his old high school. He took pictures of his latest vision with him, two, giant rams welcoming everyone to the stadium.
"My frustration as an artist is trying to get someone to see what I see, so I did drawings and I took drawings to them," said Folsom.
The next chance he took was when he started making the rams before he got the schools okay.
And, that chance paid off too, getting approval just a month ago.
On Thursday, the final clear coat was applied to ram number 2 by a professional, Marshall Coffman of S & S Body Shop, whose painted cars for the last 42 years.
"I've painted a lot, but this is the first time I've painted a ram like this," said Coffman laughing.
The rams are steel and strong art sculpted by Folsom, just like Garces helped mold him. And, he couldn't be more grateful.
"I believe in the quote, "It's not about the destination, it's the journey." So, this is part of my journey and my journey has been fantastic my whole life. So, it's good," said Folsom.
Each ram is different. In fact, one weighs just over 600 pounds. The other is bigger at over 700 pounds. They'll be specially mounted at the entrance of the football stadium Friday morning in time for Garces' big championship game.