By Bonnie Gangelhoff
Bart Walter has braved freezing temperatures, as well as close encounters with grizzly bears, for the not-so-simple sake of art. He is a sculptor who refuses to take the easy route by stopping in at the local zoo for reference material. On a 2010 foray to Manitoba, Canada, in search of polar bears, the first bear Walter chanced upon was resting in a pose that became the basis for WAITING FOR ICE, a bronze piece in the Coors Western Art Exhibit and Sale. “The bear was terrifyingly beautiful,” Walter recalls. As he climbed back into his rented pickup truck, a second bear proceeded to chew on the truck’s door handle.
The inspiration for another sculpture in the show, YELLOWSTONE MOOSE, originated on a backcountry camping trip in Yellow-stone National Park a few months ago. Walter awoke in the predawn morning, he says: “I had slipped out to see the stars, put on my glasses, and there was a moose.”
As a strong believer in working from life, Walter creates sculptures in his studio based on his drawings and the clay and wax sculptures that he works up on location. It comes as no surprise that he is known for the integrity and authenticity he brings to his bronze lions, chimpanzees, and elephants, among many other creatures. For as long as he can remember, the Maryland sculptor has had a fascination and passion for the natural world and animals. “I have managed to combine this with my love of art in a medium that demands physicality,” Walter says.
Featured in January 2012.