The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. ~ Paul Strand
“Gee, I thought the place would be more ostentacious than this given the artists’ reputation,” I thought as we drove up and parked outside the gallery of internationally known sculpture artists William H Turner and his son David H Turner on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake in northern Virginia. However, inside the father and son’s work was exhibited in abundance. The 4,000 square feet of gallery space made for great browsing. I didn’t realize until later that a foundry, metal shops, a wood shop, wax shop, mold room and storage in nine separate buildings were also on site. The Turner’s have the assistance of 20 skilled artisans they supervise throughout the multi-step process.
Their limited edition sculpture includes more than 400 designs. Birds of prey, game birds, deer and other American wildlife and animals seen on safari are among them. Smaller pieces include rodents, frogs, turtles, fish and other marine life. More than 100 public installations of Turner Sculpture are located on some of the finest college campuses, in aquariums, nature conservancies, zoos, museums and botanic gardens throughout the country. The father and son have even presented a piece of their art to President George Bush, Sr. at The White House.
As I perused the gallery, I got a very real sense of the importance of passing along the craft of sculpture making to younger generations of Turners as well as an appreciation for other mediums of art. One display space was dedicated to cast sculptures that grandchildren had created. A large number of canvases painted by various family members hang throughout the gallery space.
Writing and independent publishing is just another aspect of William H Turner’s talents. His rural farm-boy voice is prevalent throughout his book Memoirs of a Farm Boy as well as in the Turner Sculpture “Tracks” newsletter. Stories such as Mrs. Chrysler and the Pickle Barrel, which is excerpted in one of the newsletters, is a charming recounting of his artist/client relationship with a wealthy woman and her appreciation of his work. His books also include East of the Chesapeake and Of An Evening.
For a farm boy from Virginia, born in 1935, many roads have been traveled and explored to reach the notable status that the father and son enjoy together as world class sculpture artists. William H. Turner’s life after college began as a dentist.
It was a privilege to speak with William H. Turner, Sr. in person and he told me that many of their sculptures are permanently exhibited at the Benson Sculpture Gardens in Loveland, Colorado.
And I was taken by great surprise when I saw the work of artist Wick Ahrens in the gallery. I was familiar with his whale sculptures, as he resided in Peru, Vermont for decades. Peru is the town right next to my thirty-year place of residence in Bondville.
My favorite piece was from their childhood memories collection “A Boy on Stilts.” I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Turner Sculpture and was so very impressed with their craftsmanship and skilled artistry.
This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. Check in on us on Monday on All Things Fulfilling!