Edmond Shumpert - Ultimate Challenge Sculpture
Huntington Beach Public Art
The City of Huntington Beach
Public Art Program began in 1976 with the
acquisition of the 'Ultimate Challenge' Surfer by
Artist Edmond Shumpert. It is located at the entry
to Huntington City Beach at Huntington Street
and Pacific Coast Highway. Over 20 years later,
Shumpert made another contribution to the local
sculpture/art scene with his life-size bronze of
Duke Kahanamoku located in front of Huntington Surf
at the Surfers' Hall of Fame on the corner of
Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street.
Born in West Point, Mississippi in 1943, Edmond
Shumpert spent most of his career in California. An
award-winning artist, his work is displayed at
Disney World among many other notable public venues.
Shumpert studied at Art Center in Pasadena and spent
four years as a medical illustrator at the Brain
Research Institute at UCLA. There he studied muscle
structure to familiarize himself with the human
anatomy in preparation for his profession as a
Life in California was not all work
and for Shumpert. He loved to surf in Huntington
Beach and Orange County with friends such as the OP
founder. Shumpert said that his inspiration for
Ultimate Challenge came one day while
surfing. He looked over at his friend riding a wave
and the moment in time stayed in his mind,
eventually becoming the subject of the bronze statue
that has been photographed hundreds of thousands of
times in Huntington Beach.
statue has lived an interesting life. The surfer's
hairstyle is clearly 1970's. If Ultimate
Challenge wore clothing, they would be dated, no
doubt. At one time it was suggested that a pair of
pants be placed on the statue to cover natural body
parts that are visible when you crank your head
under the statue to take a peak. Thanks to common
sense, the idea passed like so many waves. Ultimate
Challenge has lived through beach redevelopment, has
been surrounded by flowers, overgrown bushes and now
enjoys concrete slab placement and a step up
mounting providing enhanced visibility for thousands
of people in cars passing by daily on Pacific Coast
Highway. If Ultimate Challenge could
speak, would he discuss the weather, the people and
the waves seen during his nearly 30-year existence'
Having survived longer than most fixtures
surrounding him, Ultimate Challenge is a timeless
tribute to surfing worth visiting.
left California in 2000, returning to his native
Mississippi and a more relaxed lifestyle. He
purchased a country home near family members in
Eupora and lives there with his Russian-born wife.
Once settled, he built a 20-by-40 metal building to
serve as his sculpting studio and foundry where he
would create the Duke Kahanamoku statue. The 16-foot
ceiling enables Shumpert to produce life-sized
sculpture along with smaller pieces he turns out at
the rate of 15-20 a year.
Though Shumpert makes his living as a sculptor, he
crafts bows for archery from bodark trees and
restores vintage automobiles as hobbies. The process
of creating a life-size sculpture is a painstaking
proposition, requiring many steps, and great
patience, according to the former surfer.
"I make a steel skeleton that looks like a stick
figure in the desired pose, then wrap it completely
with burlap and plaster. It will be built up with
clay, and all the details sculpted and finished,"
explained Shumpert. "This is called the sculpture
The molding is done by sectioning this model into
parts and making silicon rubber molds. Melted wax is
poured both in and out until a one-eighth-inch
hollow copy is formed in the molds.
He said the wax copies are removed, and wax tubes
and a wax funnel are put on each. They are in turn
covered inside and out with ceramic mold material.
"The result is that bronze turns out hollow too. The
bronze casting is done by baking the ceramic molds
in a kiln at 1,650 degrees for an hour and thirty
minutes ... just before the bronze is melted in a
furnace and poured into the molds.
To finish the bronze, all parts are removed from the
ceramic molds, cleaned and sandblasted. Finally, all
the parts are welded together, filed, sanded and
finished. This is not for the inpatient.
Shumpert's sculptures include native American
Sitting Bull, Johnny Weissmuller, the two-time
Olympic swimming champion who later played Tarzan in
12 movies, and Olympic swimmer and gold medal winner
Duke Kahanamoku. Recent works include Green Pay
Packers All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre.
Other art around town includes:
-Civic Center Sculpture
-Civic Center Bird Murals
-Norma Brandell Gibbs Park
-Duke Kahanamoku statue in front of Huntington Surf
-Gallery at Central Library on 7111 Talbert Ave.
exhibits change monthly
-Poet's Table at Pier Plaza by Terry Schoonhoven
-Sculptures at Central Library
-Ultimate Challenge by Edmond Shumpert