Always Lovable & Loyal, Archie Is at the Lake

Visit Meredith to discover Bob Montana's Archie Andrews

Susanna Hargeaves photo

Gone are the carefree days of summer, but we still have our love for the arts to see us through this new and strange school year.

I recently discovered an appropriate representation: A life-sized sculpture that made me smile and brought back so many memories. The statue is the remarkably exact replica of the lovable cartoon character, Archie Andrews.

High school can be such a challenging time, and the humor of Archie is something I fondly remember. While my parents read the Sunday morning paper and drank their coffee, I used to sit at the end of their bed and read the comics and talk to them about my dreams and worries. Archie was a klutz like me, but he always had a smile on his face, and he never gave up on love.

Located in Meredith’s Community Park at 65 Main St., the happy-go-lucky Archie sculpture was created by Valery Mahuchy. It was made to honor the local illustrator and family man Bob Montana, who created the beloved red-haired comic book character and his teenage friends Betty, Veronica and Jughead. The popular Archie comic strip was published in more than 750 newspapers and was made into several television shows, including “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale.” Bob Montana lived in Meredith for 35 years with his wife Peggy and their four children. Montana passed away in 1975 at the age of 54.

Susanna Hargreaves photo

Life changes, but there is always plenty of room for you to sit right next to Archie and admire his adorable freckles and the dapper bow tie Mahuchy so perfectly captured. According to Mahuchy, the bronze sculpture took him approximately two years to create.

First, he learned all that he could about Archie from Bob Montana’s daughter Lynn. He drew three compositions of Archie and the committee selected the piece of Archie sitting. From there, it was a long thought out process and a great deal of hard work.

“The Archie figure sitting was born in three materials: plasticine, wax and bronze,” Mahuchy says.

Mahuchy says he is grateful the sculpture, dedicated on August 9, 2018 for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration, touches people emotionally.

Susanna Hargreaves photo

“The image of Archie is a symbol of a love for life, joy and optimism,” he says. “I would like the one who sits with Archie to become kinder. There is a lot of evil in the world.”

Mahuchy further explains that he believes art can help people through difficult times and give hope, because art is healing and it can change the brain.

“I believe that art can help any person. It should be taught to tune a person’s ability to perceive it,” he says. “This is what harmonizes a person with nature and space. It can be a therapy for relieving the stress of social life. I think art has three doors to enter. First, it’s therapy, second, it’s making a living and third, it’s living inside the arts. Everyone chooses what suits them. The third is the most difficult, but it is also the happiest for a person. I think that through art a person can communicate through eternity, and then he understands that goodness, joy and love are the most valuable things in life.”

Mahuchy says he was born with the desire to be an artist. Born in Belarus, he graduated from the Academy of Arts in Minsk in 1988. His sculptures are admired in Vitebsk, Minsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Germany, Belarus, Israel, France, Ukraine, Russia and America.

Now he calls New Hampshire home, where he enjoys the people, exploring local nature and making art. Mahuchy recently created two sculptures for the Franconia Artwalk, which is a self-directed outdoor exhibit of sculptures, architecture, paintings and gardens.

The next time you go to Lake Winnipesaukee, I hope you will visit Archie. He is a reminder that when life gets difficult, we have the arts. And if you get hungry, just stand up and take five large steps to your right and you will arrive at the outdoor seating of the Frog Rock Tavern, or go down the street for an ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s, and take a stroll along the lake. There, you will also find some more amazing sculptures to enjoy on the Meredith Sculpture Walk. (This entire experience would make a great date. Hint, hint.)

Discovering art can be a free, fun, family experience. See how great art can inspire you and your children. For the price of a tank of gas, art lovers don’t have to drive far to experience something meaningful.

Categories: NH History and Outdoor Art