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, Warners 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.
Ive 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, McDonalds, Gannett Publishing and Detroit Tigers and Little Caesars owner Mike Illitch.
Celebrities who own at least one of Warners works include Randy Travis, David Copperfield, Kelly McGillis, Charlie Gibson and Zsa Zsa Gabor.