Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Todd Warner's Zoo Charlevoix...
. . . .

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.

‘THEY HAVE PERSONALITIES’
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.

SUBTLE HUMOR
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.”
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close