I am a sculptor and naturalist living in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
My work is primal in spirit - guided by a timeless desire to understand and celebrate our place in the world. My inspiration comes from a deep love of nature and conviction that our humanness is an integral part of it.
As you view my work I hope that you relax, have fun, and feel at home in the world - perhaps glimpsing the beauty and mystery of existence.
While exploring the hills and streams of the prairie I gather materials (sticks, stones, bones, wire). Like a native pack rat, I then return to the studio to store, array, and get to know these findings - their inherent beauty, evocative power, and potential for interesting and structural relationships with other materials.
I then fit things together with the ultimate goals of visual delight and power to awaken distant memories, stories, and feelings.
I was born in Lima, Ohio. As a child I spent countless hours hunting for arrowheads and exploring the streams and wetlands of northwestern Ohio. These hours inspired my love of nature and nurtured an instinctive interest in sculpture.
These interests continued in my formative years at Harvard College (BA,1970), Harvard Graduate School of Design (MArch.1975), and in Stockholm as a Harvard University Sheldon Fellow. Yet, expectations and training led to professional life as an architect rather that a sculptor.
After working briefly for John Portman in Atlanta and Harry Weese & Associates in Chicago, I started my own firm in Chicago in 1980. For twenty-five years I enjoyed a diverse practice with McBride Kelley Baurer Architects designing churches, commercial buildings, schools, private homes, and urban design and historic renovation projects.
During these busy years of architecture my interest in sculpture was sustained by. . .
winning first place in the Chicago Institute of Architects' Art by Architects competition, in 1989,
participating in group shows at the Mars Gallery in Chicago in 1992 and a two person show with Noreen Warnock at Bluffton College's Sauder Visual Arts Center in 1994,
attending a sculpture class with Barbara Cooper at the Chicago Art Institute in 1998,
creating numerous works for charity auctions, most notably "Hey Diddle Diddle" the popular cow jumping over the moon at the Wrigley Building for Cows on Parade in 1999,
and. . . dreaming of life as a sculptor in the tall grass prairie.
During those years I also became a passionate environmentalist, prairie preservationist, and advocate for local foods and sustainable agriculture.
I was a long-term board member of Friends of the Chicago River and co-founder of Riverbank Neighbors, a successful grassroots effort to restore native habitat and welcome people to five blocks of the riverbank on Chicago's northwest side.
And then in 2005 my wife, Julia Fabris McBride, and I turned dreams of prairie and sculpture into reality. We left Chicago for a new life in Matfield Green (pop. 50) in Chase County, Kansas. Matfield Green lies in the heart of the Flint Hills, our largest remnant of unplowed tall grass prairie.
During our first four years in Kansas full attention to sculpture was trumped by the demands of resettlement, house construction, having a child, establishing a small farm, and founding Pioneer Bluffs Foundation, a non-profit focusing on prairie heritage, community, and sustainability.
But finally the dust did settle. . . and at the same time, completely out of the blue Ton Haak and Ans Zoutenbier moved to Matfield Green from Abiquiu, New Mexico to establish a gallery for earth/landscape contemporary art. Their interest in showing my work in the first show at the new Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs (March-June 2011) resulted in six months of full time work in the studio, a successful show, and renewed self-confidence as an artist.
This long awaited self-realization of actually being a "sculptor" was reinforced by recent participation in a webinar with Chicago art expert, Paul Klein. The course helped demystified the art world, included me in a welcoming network of artists, and offered sound advice and strategy for an "emerging" sixty-three year old sculptor.