Pre’s Tribute: The Journey2022-02-04T00:18:16+00:00
3001, 2021

Pre’s Maquette

Working extensively with Linda Prefontaine, Steve’s sister, American sculptor Mike Leckie has created a limited-edition bronze statue of Steve ‘Pre’ Prefontaine. A maquette, a small model of a proposed sculpture, performs a similar function as a sketch to a painting. Historically, a maquette could be formed out of various materials such as wax or terracotta, and sometimes cast into a bronze as its own edition.

More than two years in the making of the Pre Maquette, he stands 24″ tall x 10″ wide x 16″ depth. It is cast in the lost wax method at the Calcagno Studios in Boring, Oregon.

This bronze portrait is of an American icon, an inspiration, depicted turning the last curve of the race, pushing himself through the exhaustion to the finish line.

Pre believed in helping people be the best that they can be by setting the example of hard work, goal setting and commitment to the sport he loved.

Linda Prefontaine

3001, 2021

Pre’s Large Tribute Begins

The 3-D laser image of the Prefontaine’s Maquette was used to create the structural foundation of the larger-than-life sculpture. It was also used to cut proportional lines of the Maquette into a special styrofoam. This allows for the large sculpture to scale without tremendous weight, so the artist can more easily work on the larger piece.

The maquette was sculpted by hand but also required support from a wire armature. The Maquette, both the armature and clay, was shaped entirely from the artist’s hand. As the surface of the large piece, with all of its details ,was sculpted entirely by hand.

The uncompromising drive of Pre inspired me, drove me forward. In the past two years, as I sculpted this international icon, who in his short life captured the hearts of generations, my admiration for what he accomplished intensified. I feel I captured the essence and spirit of the great Steve Prefontaine.

It is with a legend like “Pre” that we realize that our greatest talents reside in our own spirit of resilience, dedication, and perseverance.

Mike Leckie

402, 2021

Large Pre’s Infancy

After Mike worked with Form 3D Foundry in Portland to enlarge the maquette into a full sized piece made from styrofoam and a small outer layer of clay, it was time for Pre to spend the next year at Mike Leckie’s studio

Mike’s interest in classical sculpture began when he was very young. He is internationally renowned for sculptures that capture the subtle nuances of his subjects. Remaining true to his love of the old masters, and remaining inside the classical lines, Mike creates sculpture that captures the spirit of his subjects.

In this photo, Mike carries the Pre styrofoam and clay basic model to a padded van for transport. (The styrofoam base weighed only ten pounds!) Thus began the yearlong creation process of Pre’s larger-than-life-sized tribute. As Mike Leckie cradled the tribute, his emotions swelled with joy as if he were actually carrying his child. (and it a way, he was.)

It was a profound moment when I held Pre in my arms. He was so vulnerable and innocent, still unformed and waiting for me to rediscover his energy and fighting spirit. When we finally made it home and Pre was set in my studio, I cried. Joy, relief, and excitement washed over me. For the next two years, I did not leave him until I found the Prefontaine of legend standing beside me.

Mike Leckie

1002, 2021

Pre’s Bronze Maquette

Historically, a maquette can be created from of a variety of materials such as wax, terracotta, stone, or many other mediums. However, Steve Prefontaine’s maquette was sculpted with clay, using a wire armature for support. It then followed the same old-world technique of making a mold to be sent to the foundry to be cast into bronze. The larger than life piece will go through the same process.

After being hand-sculpted, this maquette was cast into bronze and will be made available for purchase. This limited-edition of 225 statues will benefit the artist, Pre’s sister, Linda, and also the Steve Prefontaine Foundation. This 24″ bronze statue weighs 35 pounds and serves as a reminder of one Pre’s most influential and encouraging messages:

“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”

Steve Prefontaine

My brother believed in helping people be the best that they can be by setting the example of hard work, goal setting and commitment to the sport he loved.

Linda Prefontaine


2002, 2021

From Maquette to a Life-Size Tribute

The Steve Prefontaine maquette was sculpted with clay, using a wire armature. However, enlarged from 24 inches to more than 6-feet tall through the 3-D laser process, most of the fine details from the maquette were lost. What was left was an obscure, clouded-faced large Pre. The artist now builds on this clay-covered styrofoam foundation, adding more clay in places, and removing it in other areas … as the new Pre Tribute begins to emerge.

During this process, Mike Leckie’s attention to detail is highlighted as he forms the muscles, tendons, and skeletal structure on the Pre Tribute. The sculptor has to repeat these skills to the smallest detail using classical figurative methods.

This photo shows the ‘rough draft’ of the larger-than-life Pre Tribute. It’s unfinished, almost crude, pocked surface barely resembles the Pre Tribute that it will become. Mike’s hands will know what to do, this is the kind of challenge he thrives on. The completed Large Pre Bronze will require heavy metal armature to support the tribute’s weight. It is anticipated that to achieve this feat, the armature will also extend nearly 6-feet deep underground.

2802, 2021

Structural Beginnings of Pre Tribute

The first steps of a classical figurative sculpture is the skeleton, the bones are a natural armature. Then as the muscles are added, they bring life to the figure.

In this image, the foundational muscles of the arm, neck and chest are seen. Mike worked with concentric contraction on the muscles as it shortens to generate force to move Pre forward. At the same time, he had to sculpt the eccentric contractions movements of Pre’s muscles, sculpting the stretched tension as it decelerates a joint at the end of a movement. Pre was an exceptional runner, and Mike sculpted just enough tension in Pre’s upper body’s isometric movements to mimic the runner’s confidence and exertion.

Even as the sculpture is in its infancy, one can almost observe an intake of air in the rise of Pre’s chest. Later the sculpting of “this breath” can also be seen in his upper belly, a full deep breath as if Pre is pushing through the final curve at Hayward Field, the Bowerman Curve.

It is the nuances of the human figure, whether at rest or in action, that thrill me. To capture a single moment of Pre’s life in an enduring material such as bronze, immortalizes Pre and shares his drive and commitment with the world.

Mike Leckie


403, 2021

Pre’s Furrowed Brow

Mike Leckie’s desire and personal commitment to sculpt Pre’s Tribute began the week that Pre died. Now, nearly 50-years later, the commitment he made is almost fully realized, and that brings him great satisfaction.

So many images of Pre are when he was young – mostly from the time of a 1970 Sports Illustrated magazine. I wanted to sculpt him as he was entering his prime. The Pre Tribute is not the fresh face of a 17-year-old, but rather an older, maturing 24-year-old Pre. One that holds an ethereal wisdom that now truly belongs to him.

Mike Leckie

In this photo one can see the concentration in Pre’s furrowed brow. His body is taking shape, resembling the wiry strength of the man himself. The process of sculpting Pre is a labor of love. Mike set aside all other work to focus on Pre’s Tribute. It’s what Pre deserves.


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