Canyon Princess stands as the focal point at the entrance to the Gaylord Exhibition Wing where it
serves as guardian of all that lies within. Evoking all the grace and power of western wildlife in general,
this monumental likeness of a female cougar was sculpted from a single 31-ton block of Colorado yule marble.
The finished piece is twice life-size, soars 15' above its base, and weighs slightly more than eight tons.
This sculpture was donated by the artist in 1995 in appreciation of winning the museum's annual Prix de West
Award for fine artistic accomplishment at a critical point early in his career. The process of creating the
piece took well over a year, with the actual sculpting process consuming some five months. The work began in
Balciar's Colorado studio, where the statue was approximately 75 percent completed and then moved to its
present location where the more delicate elements were finished to coincide with the opening of the first
phase of the wing.
A self-taught sculptor, Gerald Balciar fashioned his first bronze in 1964 and began creating wildlife art
in 1973. He won the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum's coveted Prix de West Award in 1985 with
his sculpture River Companions. About this sculpture, Balciar writes in the NAWA '85 Catalog, "I
have spent many enjoyable hours observing the playful antics of river otters. They are constantly showing
off and posing for the benefit of their audience. The otters' smooth, graceful lines make them the perfect
subject for a marble carving. They are such inquisitive animals, and in this piece of Colorado Yule marble,
they are perched on a log observing other activity in the distance." River Companions is located
in the permanent art collection at the Museum.
Today, Balciar is a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society and a member of the Society of Animal
Artists. Canyon Princess, which embodies the smooth, flowing line typical of Balciar's sculpture,
was placed at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in 1995.