Sculptor's bronze of Marshall on display at Maryland Statehouse

March 27, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Antonio "Toby" Mendez said he was pleased with the results of his sculpture of Thurgood Marshall - a bronze statue that honors the late civil rights champion and first black U.S. Supreme Court justice.

But there is something that makes the Knoxville, Md., resident even happier about the project, and that is the fact that it has been placed in front of the Maryland Statehouse.

"I'm more pleased with the way it's been received," he said.

Since completing the sculpture last year, Mendez, 33, has received comments and letters from people delighted with the project. On Tuesday the General Assembly honored him for his work.


"It's all new to me. It's a strange feeling," Mendez said shortly before receiving proclamations in his honor from the House of Delegates and the Senate. "I think it will all sink in later."

Mendez's project includes a 71/2-foot-tall statue of a young Marshall wearing a suit and overcoat. Behind the statue are six limestone columns depicting the U.S. Supreme Court building.

There are smaller statues of Donald Murray - the man on whose behalf Marshall fought to desegregate the University of Maryland law school - and a boy and a girl. The children represent the five students in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case that Marshall argued before the Supreme Court. The landmark case led to the end of segregation in public schools.

President Lyndon Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court in 1963.

Mendez said he has gotten feedback from other artists, art lovers and regular people who just happened to see the sculpture. Sometimes he chats about the Marshall sculpture with people who have no idea that he is the artist responsible for the project.

"That way, you get a kind of honest impression," he said.

Mendez's other works can be found throughout Washington County and beyond, including two sculptures at Hagerstown Junior College and another at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy. He also did a sculpture honoring Chesapeake Bay watermen in Solomons Island, Md.

His most recent achievement is an 8-foot-tall statue of baseball pitching great Nolan Ryan, which will be unveiled in Texas in May.

He remains humble about his work, and perhaps slightly curious about all the attention he is receiving.

"I think it's kind of strange because I still think I'm in the beginning of my career," Mendez said.

The Herald-Mail Articles