He was a great high school athlete. Talented, fast and strong, Blair Buswell starred on the football field, gaining accolades and scholarship offers like they were 1-yard touchdown plunges. He was a big-time running back who matriculated at Brigham Young University. However, like many others whose athletic paths crossed that of Jim McMahon at that juncture, his star faded in the face of his supernova teammate.
The latter, as many know, was a two-time All-American for the Cougars and eventually a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Chicago Bears. The former? Well, put it this way, he may never have made it in the NFL, but he has left his mark all over the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Forgoing football as his vocation, Buswell turned to his other passion when choosing a career path after college: art. Having always been fascinated by the human figure, the United States Sports Academy’s Artist of the Month honed his sculpting skills so well during his undergrad days that he managed to parlay his love for art and sports into a job that has seen him creating busts for the inductees since 1983, including one of former BYU teammate Steve Young.
Working from his studio in Salt Lake City, Utah, Buswell has completed 87 busts for the Hall of Famers, utilizing in-person modelling sessions with each inductee. His predecessor, Jack Worthington, had relied solely on photos and a player’s hat size. But Buswell’s hands-on touch has paid off with more life-like adaptations, much to the players’ preference.
But while his work in football is his best known, at least by the biggest following of sports fans, it is hardly all that Buswell has brought to the table. Indeed, he has produced a statue of Jack Nicklaus for the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in Augusta, Ga. He’s also sculpted one of college and pro basketball legend Oscar Robertson for the University of Cincinnati, the alma mater of the “Big O,” as well as the Doak Walker Award and a bronze statue of coaching great John Wooden that sits at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.
His work is on display at the Academy, too, since Buswell was commissioned by the Board of Trustees to sculpt a bust of Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, the university’s President and CEO.
The winner of the Academy’s 1990 Sport Artist of the Year, Buswell has made many awe-inspiring sculptures across the country, and not just related to sports. In 2010, his handiwork was unveiled as part of a city block-long sculpture wagon train monument in Omaha, Neb. He’s also done pieces on well-known religious, political, educational and even fictional figures. Charlton Heston, the actor, and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. would highlight the entertainment wing of his works – along with those busts for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A former member of the National Faculty at the Academy, Buswell is a board member of the National Sculpture Society and appointed by the Governer to serve on the Board of Directors of the Utah Arts Council. He also is a member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group, a Western art club in Park City, Utah; the Prix de West Society; the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the National Scuplture Society.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy visit www.ussa.edu.