When I started carving, a friend gave me an illustrated book about Maori art and sculpture. I was struck by how similar two cultures were on opposite sides of the Pacific Oceon. The facial tattoos I find fascinating on many levels, and I like to carve them in a larger than life scale. My first two Maori sculptures were complete, giant heads with tattoos both carved and painted. When I did the first Maori face out of walnut, I decided paint wasn’t necessary; the carved hardwood speaks for itself.
My good friend Kearns Kelly commissioned me to carve this buddha. We wanted an authentic Buddha, gaunt; Siddhartha Gautama was ascetic who begged for alms. Kearns also requested a Lotus Blossom on Buddha’s chest, symbolizing heart.
A local Aspen architect, Jeffrey Berkus, approched me about a project he was working on in Irvine, California called the Orange County Center for Living Peace. He and his client, Kelly Smith, were interested in some type of sculpture that would contribute to the Center’s spirituality. Jeff saw a photo of Kenyon’s gargoyle and excitedly told me about the Four Dignities.
The gargoyle was a breakthrough piece for me and is one of my favorites. Jim Kenyon had a high alcove he thought would be perfect for a sculpture. I suggested a gargoyle; claws over the edge, leaning out into the room. Kenyon approved. The gargoyle is life-sized and entailed carving a lot of negative space, not possible with soft woods. Very challenging, really fun subject matter for me. The gargoyle would lead to the Four Dignities sculpture series.
Shortly after completing the Four Dignities I was commissioned to do a sculpture honoring long-time Aspen local Bil Dunaway. My client liked the idea of the four compass points, four seasons etc., so we decided on an obelisk. We incorporated an old climbing ax, bicycle handlebars, and carved climbing rope and skis to honor his enthusiasm for those sports.
My friend Ty Storlie, former owner of McStorlie’s bar in Aspen, commissioned me to do an unusual totem for his home in Denver. Ty attended the University of Oregon (the Ducks) and played rugby there and for the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club. His totem includes a very large rugby ball, giant pint of Guiness, and the University of Oregon logo.
I really enjoy carving lizards, I find their carved scales very tactile. I also like carving larger than life scale so I got to do both here. This resides in Jim Kenyon’s modern art collection in Los Angeles.
My friend Brian McShane, the other former owner of McStorlie’s, commissioned me to do a totem for driveway—He wanted Celtic designs, sun, moon and stars as well as mountains, bright colors and of course his address.
This was the first sculpture I carved that wasn't a totem pole. I was challenging myself; I wanted to see if I could sculpt something other than a Totem Pole. Jim Kenyon bough this for his private collection in 1998; He donated it to Seattle University in 2012.
Suzanne Leydecker commissioned me to make a copy of a very old, authentic Buddha left to her by her father. She requested ebonizing it; a process that turns the surface black.
This piece was carved from a walnut tree that grew in Denver. I wanted to challenge myself and carve a piece with a lot of negative space.
My good friend Sam Walton commissioned me to carve this piece based on a Tibetan design representing water. The lighter wood is called sap wood; it is a thin layer of wood between the bark and the dark core of the walnut tree. Our hope is that we will be blessed with more water in the form of snow, please.
This was my second project for Greg Abott. They stand guard on either side of his driveway. They represent shaman holding coppers; the coppers being an actual ceremonial object used in Pacific Northwest Native Culture.
This totem pole was one of my first. It was commissioned by Jim McManus when he owned the Hotel Jerome in downtown Aspen, Colorado. It has an eagle at the top, a snake, an elk head with real antlers, a beaver, a mountain goat, a raven carrying a frog, a wolf holding a fish. The totem was installed in the Hotel Jerome;s courtyard in 1990. When Mr. McManus sold the Hotel Jerome in 2004, he gave the Totem Pole to his former partner in the hotel, Aspen local, Dick Butera. I took the Totem Pole down, refurbished it and installed it at Mr. Butera’s house.
I carved this totem pole for my good friend Ross Kamens, the friend who first suggested I carve a totem pole. It has an eagle at the top, a fox holding a lizard, a deer with real antlers, and a bear holding a fish at the bottom.
This was my second project for the Gustavo Cisneros family. This one features three generations; there are bears at the top, crocodiles in the middle and lions at the bottom. And a ladybug and a grasshopper. This Totem Pole resides at the Cisneros cabin at the back of Aspen Mountain.
Bruce FaBrizio owns the Sunshine Ranch in Woody Creek, Colorado and wanted to incorporate a Sun on a somewhat traditional Totem Pole: Eagle up top, wolf and bear below. I carved a design into the wooden sun beneath the copper, then beat the copper until the design underneath comes through. The first totem was installed at the original house at Sunshine Ranch. When Mr. Fabrizio finished his new house near the Roaring Fork River, he decided on another larger Totem Pole essentially the same design as the first.
The Cisneros family commissioned me to carve this totem pole for their home in Aspen. They are from Latin America, hence the unusual characters. There are two Macaws at the top, a panther, a bear and crocodile.