Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

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.

‘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.”
 
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