Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Todd Warner's Zoo Charlevoix...
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Todd Warner's Zoo Charlevoix sculptor loves animals & 'sophisticated whimsey'

Al Parker - August 29th, 2011
Todd Warner’s Zoo: Charlevoix sculptor loves animals & ‘sophisticated whimsey’
By Al Parker
In his downtown Charlevoix studio, sculptor Todd Warner puts flame to his first Dominican Excalibur cigar of the day, exhales a plume of fragrant smoke and recalls his early artistic efforts.
“I was always drawing stuff,” he says with a chuckle. “From the time I could pick up a pencil. My kindergarten teacher said ‘We need to foster this.’”
Decades later, Warner’s clay-and-wood works include life-size cowboys, Indians, butlers and fishermen. He has a special affinity for animals and crafts unique beasts from armadillos to zebras.
“I’ve always loved animals,” says Warner, who grew up in Farwell, near Clare. “And I really like the more interesting animals – wart hogs, rhinos – not the sleek one. I spent some time in Africa and really want to go back.”
Described as ‘sophisticated whimsy,’ his works can be found in lobbies, living rooms, zoos, museums, offices and airports across the nation. His creations are cornerstones of collections at the corporate headquarters of USA Today, McDonald’s, Gannett Publishing and Detroit Tigers and Little Caesar’s owner Mike Illitch.
Celebrities who own at least one of Warner’s works include Randy Travis, David Copperfield, Kelly McGillis, Charlie Gibson and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

As a boy, he learned to move silently through the woods. “I learned to walk quietly up to chipmunks and deer or they would come close to me,” explains Warner. “There was a communication both ways. I don’t believe animals operate purely on instinct. They have personalities – it’s just whether you can crack the code.”
Warner studied art at Central Michigan University and began sculpting professionally in 1967. Though it was 44 years ago, Warner still remembers his first sale. “It was a small rhinoceros,” he recalls. “A doctor bought it. I tried to buy it back several times, but he wouldn’t part with it.”
From 1968 to ‘72 he taught art in a number of schools and ‘absolutely loved it.’ Along the way there was also a stint as a construction worker. Eventually Warner had to make a choice to follow his passion for producing fine art or continuing a career in education.
Choosing the life of an artist, he moved to south Florida in 1982. It was there that his signature sculptures of flat, elongated figures, with their exaggerated personalities, were born. “I love working with clay,” he explains. “I’m not really a chip-at-marble sort of guy.”
But he’s not restricted to only sculpture, as the colorful paintings that line his studio walls will attest. They capture the light humor so prevalent in almost all of Warner’s works.

On a recent sunny summer morning a small cluster of teens strolls through his Bridge Street studio, pointing at his colorful works, smiling and giggling quietly.
“I think the humor appeals to people,” says Warner. “It’s not slapstick. It’s subtle. But the humor’s not a conscious thing. I don’t try to make them funny, that’s just the way they turn out. The works take on a frame of mind I have when working on them. It comes from deep inside me. The world has gotten too damn serious and we can use some comic relief.”
Warner’s sculptures are composed of three elements to look like a single substance. The head is sculpted in clay, the flat skinny body is wood and the legs are usually steel. Sculpted epoxy resin then covers it completely. Hand painting then brings out the fanciful personality of the creature.
To learn more about these creations, go to www.toddwarnerstudios.com .
And whose works does Warner admire?
“Just about anybody with innovative thoughts,” he notes. “I get inspiration from people like that. It keeps the fire going. “
Among his favorite artists are Sante Fe watercolorist Fran Larson, sculptor Ted Gall of Ojai, Ca. and sculptor Bob Black. “They’re all producing very high quality work, are extremely creative and innovative.”
After 20 years in Florida, Warner returned to Northern Michigan. He has a small farm in Norwood, south of Charlevoix, where his working studio is located. He’s surrounded there by his menagerie of horses, mules, dogs, cats, birds and other critters. “I love the four seasons in the Midwest,” he says. “And I love the people.”
“It’s been a really good life. Few people get to do what they really want to do. I’ve been real fortunate and it’s been a lot of hard work. I’ve seen some incredibly talented people who weren’t as lucky as me. I was very fortunate and still am.”
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