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Until the Limbaugh bust, Schubert was known for making haunting metal statues with bright-white glass eyes. The trim man with sandy-colored hair and a smile that frequently spans his face had hoped that his statement would explain his motivation for crafting the Limbaugh bust and that he wasn't a dittohead. But news accounts didn't dig very deep.
"Sure as shit, as soon as people read it [the statement] and ran stories, the nuance was stripped out," Schubert says.
The Huffington Post published a piece called "Rush Limbaugh Bust Sculptor E. Spencer Schubert Speaks Out." The Washington Post's Style Blog leapt onto the story with "Rush Limbaugh sculpture: Available for purchase!"
In an opinion piece on CNN's website, author Ron Powers wrote: "The sculptor Schubert is quoted as saying that 'I take my responsibility very seriously,' abstaining from the chance to expand on his concept of 'responsibility.' He added that his criteria for accepting commissions was 'whether or not they are artistically interesting.' This pre-empts any discussion of art as a moral (or amoral) force, and also begs the question of how 'artistically interesting' is the Limbaughian countenance."
Rather than further explain his reasoning, Schubert shut up.
Two days after the busts were delivered, Schubert returned to the Capitol for the Dred Scott unveiling. Schubert met with Scott's descendants and representatives from the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation.
"They liked the way it looks, and they were really appreciative," he says. "I got to talk to the family about how I felt about the pose, why I posed him this way. It was really nice."
However, Statehouse reporters wanted to press Schubert about the whereabouts of the Limbaugh bust.
"It would have been totally inappropriate to talk about that on Dred Scott's day," Schubert says.
Five days later, at 9 a.m., Schubert received a phone call from Tilley's office.
"They called and said, 'Get a suit on and get to the Capitol,' " he says. "So I did as I was told."
This time, Schubert kept his agenda to himself.
Schubert arrived at the Missouri Statehouse just before the 1 p.m. ceremony May 14. Tilley's aides led him into the speaker's office to meet Limbaugh, whose appearance wasn't publicized ahead of time.
"He was nice, respectful and outgoing, like you would imagine," Schubert says. "People are people.
"He gave me a very nice compliment," Schubert adds. "He said he liked the bust, he thought it was excellent, and he thought it was better work than the busts in the [Pro Football] Hall of Fame."
No one has criticized the craftsmanship of the Limbaugh bust, which is quite flattering. Sculpted at one-and-a-half life size — what Schubert calls "heroic scale" — the bronze bust carries a gentle, benevolent grin and a generous amount of hair.
"I may have given him a half-inch on the peak," Schubert jokes.
Above Limbaugh's collared shirt — no tie — his chin is relatively trim, lacking the jowls that have appeared and disappeared over his lifetime.
"I didn't decide an age to sculpt him at. Rush was really tough because he, like most of us, has gone through some pretty dramatic changes in his life," Schubert says. "The 40-year-old Rush looks a lot different than the 50-year-old Rush, especially when you take weight into consideration."
Schubert says he had no interest in working his political beliefs or Limbaugh's into the face.