Washington An Armenian sculptor has delivered a lasting thank you to Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole. It's made of bronze and captures the senator's likeness in detail, right down to a lapel pin.
The thank you, a 150-pound bust of Dole, arrived Tuesday at the Capitol.
The sculpture will be installed at Kansas University in the recently completed Robert J. Dole Human Development Center, said Walt Riker, a member of Dole's Washington, D.C., staff. He said no timeframe had been set for installation of the bust or for an installation ceremony.
"We're extremely excited about it,'' Riker said. "It's a really nice, lifesize-type sculpture."
The sculptor, Friedrich Sogoyan, says the bust is a ``gift from my people'' for Dole's work on behalf of Armenia and victims of a 1988 that killed thousands in the Soviet republic.
``In Armenia, we know that Sen. Dole has very warm feelings toward the Armenian people,'' Sogoyan, who lives in Moscow, said in an interview after the bust was unveiled.
Dole has long championed Armenian causes in Congress, and his interest can be traced in large part to an Armenian-born physician, Dr. Hampar Kelikian, who performed orthopedic surgery on the senator's war injuries.
In 1989, Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, delivered relief supplies to Armenia and helped raise money for earthquake victims. Armenia is one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union.
Sogoyan, who spoke through a translator, said he wanted the sculpture to ``show the courage ... of this great man who in this difficult historical time still has not forgotten the problems of the Armenian people.''
``These type of people are not born every day,'' Sogoyan said of Dole. ``These people who are not just concerned with their own people's problems but the fate of a small people that lives in the mountains . . . a country that could disappear.''
Sogoyan, 54, has been widely acclaimed as a sculptor in the Soviet Union. He won the Lenin Prize in 1984, one of the country's highest honors, for a 30-foot-high World War II memorial in Kiev.
Sogoyan also was the creator of a large statue recently given to the American Red Cross in recognition of earthquake relief efforts by the United States.
The artist came up with the idea of a sculpture of Dole when he met the senator last summer during a trip to the United States. Later, Dole posed for Sogoyan in sessions over three days in the Capitol. The artist prepared a model of Dole's head and finished the work in his Moscow studio.
Those sessions were difficult, Sogoyan said, because Dole was busy with legislation, including a fight over a civil rights bill and budget talks between the White House and Congress.
``So he was here for five minutes and would leave, five minutes and leave,'' said the artist.
Dole traveled to the Soviet Union in August 1990, and visited Sogoyan in Moscow. A bronze portrait of Dole was given to the senator and he saw a model of the bust.
It was at that meeting that Sogoyan added a slight detail to his work. A fellow senator pointed out that Dole wore a small emblem on his lapel to represent the Purple Heart he received for wounds suffered in World War II.
Dole displays the portrait, which is of the senator's head, on a mantle in a reception room in his leadership office.
The bust was flown from Moscow on a U.S. military plane. It went first to Frankfurt and then to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington. It was unpacked from a wooden crate on Tuesday and placed in Dole's leadership office.
Sogoyan proudly explained that he personally did ``the entire work myself,'' including finishing touches after the bronze was cast.
``I really didn't want to create something I would not be proud of. But God helped me,'' said Sogoyan.
Eventually the sculpture will go to Kansas University for display in a new building that bears Dole's name.
``It will be one of the highlights of my lifetime,'' Dole said of the bust.