Rowland Cheney grew up in the shadows of Utah's majestic Wasatch Range.
But it's California's heritage and beauty that he's captured in many of his sculptures, including his latest.
"Celebrating the Harvest" is planned as a 7-foot bronze statue of an early local farmer and his wife, raising both wine and grapes to the sky.
The City Council in March will decide whether to fund the $145,000 project, which is in line for city-collected developer fees.
Council members praised Cheney's plans at a meeting last month but have not decided where the statue would go.
Cheney would like to see it near School and Oak streets, in front of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce building.
Standing next to a clay model of the statue Monday, Cheney said he hopes the piece will both inspire and inform.
"I wanted to tell a story that these are people of the soil," the 64-year-old Clements resident said on a cold and clear morning Downtown. "The idea came from trying to imagine how these people felt as they celebrated one of their early harvests in their careers."
Cheney has contributed numerous pieces of art to
Lodi and the region. Perhaps most notable is his "Leaving and Coming Home" in front of the Downtown train depot. That bronze sculpture includes a pair of sandhill cranes situated in a circular water fountain.
Family: Wife, Cheryl, passed away in October. Four grown children: Marin, Zack, Jessica and Josh; and eight grandchildren.
Occupation: Sculptor, part-time art teacher at Delta College.
• Sculpted numerous statues and bas-reliefs across region.
• Worked more than 35 years as art teacher at Delta College.
• Raises Kiger mustangs at his Clements ranch.
• Artwork is featured at Downtown's Knowlton Gallery.
With the yet-to-be-built Harvest sculpture, Cheney envisions the man and woman as pioneers of the area's winegrape industry.
The couple will be flanked by grape vines, standing in overturned soil with a wine barrel and bottle behind them.
Lodi Mayor JoAnne Mounce said the city is "blessed" to have Cheney in the community.
Mounce said adding his Harvest statue Downtown would bolster the area as a tourist center. She noted, however, the city needs to add art throughout its limits, not just in the core.
Along with telling the story of Lodi's wine country, Cheney said he hopes his latest work will invigorate the city and its residents.
"It gives an element of inspiration," said the artist and rancher, wearing a black turtle neck, brown leather jacket, jeans and boots. "You feel inspired to go out and do something wonderful in your own life when you see a piece of art … It provides an element of hope, excitement, interest that can be seen."
"I think it's kind of a visual symbol of man's interest in something beyond himself - bigger, better than himself," he added.