Riverdale NH

Where a cultural icon invites you to sit a spell

photo by morgan karanasios
Sculptor Valery Mahuchy's model of the bench.

As internationally renowned sculptor Valery Mahuchy tweaks the firm modeling clay, he thinks aloud about his subject: “He is smiling. He has energy. He is ready for adventure.”

Mahuchy, now of Bethlehem but born in Belarus and a graduate of the Academy of the Arts in Minsk, has exhibited his work in Moscow, Vitebsk and St. Petersburg. The scaled figure sitting on the tiny park bench before him is about as American as rock ‘n’ roll. Archie Andrews, in plaid pants and his Riverdale sweater vest, has both arms outstretched, ready to hug any Betty or Veronica who happens by. And if there should happen to be a Jughead or a Moose, well, there’s room for one more at the end of the bench.

If all goes well with fundraising, the plan is for the completed sculpture to have a permanent home in a small park on Meredith’s Main Street, right across from the studio in which artist Bob Montana created the images of Archie and his pals and spun his fabulous tales of teen life in the town of Riverdale. The dedication is scheduled to coincide with Meredith’s 250th anniversary next July.

The idea for such a tribute was dreamed up by local architect Chris Williams and was embraced by the Greater Meredith Program, which is responsible for the town’s sculpture walk, among other promotional efforts for the lakeside community. While many locals know of the connection between the town and Archie (the Montana family has a long history there), it will be news to visitors and tourists, and should provide the town with a stream of online publicity as the perfect spot for family photos and selfies.

Video by John W. Hession.

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