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Ever have a hankering to pat a hippo, pose with a giraffe, hug an emu?

All this and more is quite possible--no danger, no admission charge, no plane ticket to Africa. Just go for a visit to the yard of sculptor Denis Curtiss on Route 7, next to Kent Falls State Park in Kent, Connecticut, for the opportunity to stroll among life-size steel and bronze animals that stalk and cavort there.

Retired from a career teaching art all around the world, Denis can now be found behind a welding mask in his studio, creating enduring works of art that are delighting art collectors around the country and beyond. Recently singer Andy Williams visited, and proceeded to order over twenty large animal sculptures for his own yard, and for his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri. A mountain goat currently being designed in Kent will end up peering from the theatre's roof down onto all those who enter there.

A steel Basset Hound, and a bronze cat hid under decorated trees this Christmas in two other states, and a pig named Virginia Ham is being shipped out to be a most unique Valentine surprise! Virtually indestructible, sculpture has left "Sculpturedale" bound for new lives as far as Canada and even South America. Next to be "born" in Kent is a dancing dog, commissioned by a collector in Wisconsin. But while they wait for their new homes, you can see them as they weather and season at Sculpturedale.

Sheets of flat metal are cut, then welded into triangulated shapes that assemble to a unique cubist sculpture that is extremely strong. Never static, the animals are in a state of movement: horses prance or rear, goats leap, cats pounce, elephants trumpet, roosters stomp. They each have a personality and a name.

Every visitor, adult or child, serious art critic or interested passerby, immediately enjoys these forms. Walking around the yard is like being on safari. Indeed, Denis has been to Africa many times to observe the real thing in its native habitat. This experience has certainly helped him capture the essence of the beast back in Connecticut.

Denis has been recognized at the world's largest dog art show, winning the top honor for "Gypsy," a terrier in a playful bow. The AKC's Museum of the Dog in St. Louis has displayed his life-sized dogs. Real dogs, Airedales, all rescued, share his home. Denis is the Vice President of the Little Guild of St. Francis in Cornwall. His wife's gallery, "The Dog Show," across the driveway from his studio, welcomes dog lovers to see a barn full of dog-themed arts and crafts. If there is a dog in the customer's car, he is welcomed, too. Some of these visiting pooches entertain Denis, as he looks out his studio window, seeing them freeze at their first glimpse of a moose, or boldly trot toward a steel Afghan Hound's bottom for an inquisitive sniff!

More of the work of Denis Curtiss can be visited at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville, where dinner or hotel guests can gaze out on gardens occupied by steely wild life, something like having dinner at the famous Treetops Lodge in Kenya.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation at Chesterwood in Stockbridge MA has selected two sculptures for their Contemporary Sculpture exhibition.  Centerpiece for the Darien Nature Center's special exhibit on elephants, stands a a Curtiss sculpture of a joyful baby elephant. The City of Lincoln, Nebraska purchased a sitting baby elephant to enhance a beautiful urban park.

Barnum Museum in Bridgeport displayed two giraffes as part of their 2009 juried sculpture event.  And twelve large animals spent the summer months prancing around the streets of Stamford, CT, as part of the "Stamford Downtown" juried sculpture show. 

Prices range from $2,000 to $10,000.  Shipping arranged.