Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Great big outdoor sculptures

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He did an immense longhorn bull standing in a pasture near Highway 380 between Haskell and Throckmorton.  The silhouette takes drivers by surprise.  “That’s one of the more popular pieces I’ve built.  It was commissioned by a local rancher who had me build two fourteen-foot bulls.   Then he told me he wanted a larger one.  We put it out there with no ceremony or anything, and it got immediate attention.  Lots of photographs are taken there.  It’s been listed as a Roadside Attraction in Texas and got a lot of publicity for me.  You can see it from two miles away, because it’s twenty-four feet tall.  I could actually stand up in the chest cavity when I was building it.”

He creates large deer skulls twelve feet across that are found in pastures all over Texas.  “I build a lot of giant, Texas iconic things like roadrunners and horned toads.  In Willow Park near Weatherford is a large gar twenty feet tall standing on its tail.”  His work is found in several states from North Carolina to California.  He grew up in his daddy’s welding shop in Throckmorton.  He had his own welding hood when he was two years old. 

In college, he studied art.  “The professor found out I did welding, and when I asked what the assignment was, he said ‘build me something.’  I built an oversized set of tools that included pliers, a screwdriver and sledge hammer.  I was able to sell some things while I was in college at Midwestern.  That led me to be naïve enough to think that I could built sculptures for a living after I graduated.”

It took a while.  He worked with his dad six years, all the time creating and showing his work at art shows.  “About the time I was struggling with it, I had a guy from North Carolina call me two years after I did a show up there.  He said he buys ten thousand dollars’ worth of art a year and wanted some of my pieces.  That’s what I was after: getting them out there.  That is what I tell young artists: to keep building and putting it out there.  You’ve just got to be determined.”

His Red Star Studio in Albany is also his home.  He has no plans to retire.  “I get antsy if I don’t work on something.  I go on vacation for a week or so then I’m ready to make something.  I may carve on a piece of wood or draw.  I feel like, if you’re an artist, you have that motivation.  You’ve got the fuel and you’ve got to use it by creating something.  If you don’t have that, it’s not going to work.  You’ve got to have the drive.  In my dream world, I could stay in my studio and make things I want to do, put them outside the studio, and wait for people to come and buy them.  It doesn’t work that way.  If you keep producing good work consistently, you’ll find a way to make a living with it.”