In review, it seems that I can break down my professional, artistic career into quarters roughly defined by the decades. The ten or so years prior to 1980 I would characterize as a period of education and development of a personal style and interest while the decade of the eighties was one of maturation. Of course an immensely important milestone in that period, was my opportunity to become a charter member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society in 1985.
I recall things began to move swiftly in the years that immedately followed the formation of the Society; for me, my fellow members of the Society and for the AFAS as an organization. It was our great good fortune to find straight away a significant and prestigious home for our Annual Premier Exhibition at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. During the late eighties the number of dealers and venues featuring automotive art also grew and automotive art was being regarded ever increasingly as an important and collectable segment of the automobile hobby and the art market. By 1990, which would be the beginning of the third quarter of my career and the real starting point of this twenty year update, it seemed that the Automotive Fine Arts Society and I by association had established major profiles in the genre of automotive art. The Annual AFAS Premier Exhibition was in it's fifth year and, having been moved into prominence onto the field adjoining the eighteenth fairway at Pebble Beach, had established a significant presence at the Concours. I benefited immensely from being a member and enjoying the exposure that the show brought. It was also around that time I began to spend a greater portion of my time in San Francisco working on research, the original art works and making important West Coast contacts. I continued to cast and finish the work primarily in Loveland, Colorado because the foundary facilities there were superior to anything I found in the Bay Area.
BEGINNING IN 1988, but continuing through the early nineties, the National Hot Rod Association commissioned me to create four commemorative sculptures celebrating milestones in Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing history. These included commemoratives for the first Top Fuel and Funny Car Dragsters to break into the three minute elapsed times in the quarter mile and the first Top Fuel and Funny Car Dragsters to exceed 300 mph in the quarter mile. Each of these designs was produced in duplicate one presented to each record breaking driver and one for permanent placement in the Wally Parks NHRA Museum in Pomona California which opened in 1998. The Raymond E. Holland Museum collected a number of my works in the nineties for the collection in Allenstown, Pennsylvania . The Holland Collection eventually moved to the Black Hawk Museum in California.
I continued to refine my working style and found that where I had been using modeling wax and clay to do the entire original, I was wanting to refine the mechanical elements of the sculptures to a finer finish and therefore began to use wood, aluminum or machinist's epoxy which I could sand to a very smooth finish for elements like the car bodies, wheels and engine parts. Perhaps the first time I used this technique was in my sculpture of the first Porsche sports car "Porsche Eins" in the late eighties. By the time I created "El Maestro" in 1991,a bonze and stainless-steel sculpture depicting Juan Manuel Fangio driving the Lancia –Ferrari amidst swirling dust, I felt I had mastery of this mixed media approach to the original patterns. I've continued with this technique since and have slowly added a variety of machine shop tools to my workshop with which to create, fabricate and finish the works.
This technique was employed and expanded upon during the creation and construction of a twenty one foot tall monument for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame installed in December of 2000 at the "Big Daddy' Don Garlits' Museum of Drag Racing in Ocacla, Florida. This piece is a half-life sized recreation of Big Daddy caught in a vertical wheel stand in his Top Fuel dragster Swamp Rat XXX. A lot of the mechanical components of the dragster including the motor, transmission and running gear were originally crafted in wood and then molded for lost wax casting in stainless steel and bronze.
Clay was used for the more textured and organic forms like the figure of Garlits and the smoke boiling off the tires. But, to construct the the fuselage I recreated the dragster's space frame in stainless- steel sheathed by bronze tubing and then crafted the exterior bodywork out of 1/8th inch bronze sheet metal. Overall, the piece is a unique blend of traditional fine art casting and race shop metal fabrication.
During this same period I also created life sized figures of Alfred Neubauer and Enzo Ferrari for Arturo and Deborah Keller and installed them at the Pyramids, the Keller's Automotive Museum in Petaluma California. The Kellers have continued to be great patrons of automotive art and collectors not only of my work by works by many of the AFAS members as well.
In 1997, I was approached by the Dealer Development Department of Mercedes-Benz USA. They were looking for a suitable gift to present to their Dealers during grand openings of new or remodeled facilties across the country. The first piece selected by them was an a twenty inch tall figure of Alfred Neubauer the racing team manager at Mercedes for many years during the forties and fifties. That edition of this piece was soon entirely gifted and so began and so I was commissioned to create and produce another special edition depicting Juan Fangio in the 1955 Le Mans SLR, followed by a sculpture of Stirling Moss in the open wheeled W196. Thus began my collaboration with the Mercedes-Benz USA, Dealer Development Department which has now lasted over thirteen years, commissioned seven different designs and produced over three hundred and sixty individual sculptures. Designs currently under production exclusively for Mercedes-Benz are a recreation of the 1952 Gullwing coupe during a pit stop and driver change at Le Mans and a stylized version of the Mercedes-Benz 2009 McLaren Stirling Moss super roaster.
By the beginning of the new millennium, production of my sculpture in the Loveland studio was taking me away from my family in San Francisco for extended periods and so the decision was made to transition the family to northern Colorado where I could continue to work and cast at the excellent foundries in Loveland and still be present on a daily basis as my twin sons Ryan and Sean grew up. It took a couple of years, but we were all finally residing in Northern Colorado in late summer of 2002. Family life with my adult children, Aaron and Elly, grandson Ronan Hendrix and my twelve year olds remains my greatest joy and priority. Since returning to Loveland full time, life as an artist, working in the home provides me a wonderful opportunity to be a stay at home dad.
In recent years, I've begun to incorporate some clear resin elements into some of the sculpture designs. My piece Airborne created in 2004 is the first major work in which I used this approach. For some time, I had sought a material that was easily worked in the studio to create transparent, dust like elements which were stable, water clear and durable. It was not until one of my plastics suppliers perfected an optically clear poly-urethane resin that could be cast at room temperature, was I able to realize that goal. Since then I have developed several techniques and designs using clear resin as the base element to simulate dust cloud forms. This clear resin has also allowed me to place the sculptures on light boxes to illuminate the sculpture from below and within. I remain enthusiastic that this particular mixed media approach will yield many new and interesting effects in future artwork.
Most of the sculptures I now create are works on commission, creating for individuals, museums and corporations, unique pieces and limited editions that fulfill a variety of requests. Of course Mercedes-Benz USA remains one of my biggest and most important clients, but in the last several years I have also filled large orders from the Auburn, Cord, Deusenberg Club and the Porsche Club of America. Current works in progress are almost all portrait busts, full and partial figures of personalities in motorsports for museums and private collectors. I am enjoying immensely these opportunities to focus primarily on the human form as I continue to create and cast pieces that feature the automotive form and history prominently.