By Bonnie Gangelhoff
One of the first things a viewer notices about Joshua Tobey’s animal sculptures is that they often emanate an almost human-like sense of humor. His bronze bear cubs are reminiscent of playful toddlers, and his bunnies can take on the demeanor of a gangly teenager slouched on the floor. Tobey didn’t dream of becoming an artist as a child, but rather envisioned life as a ski instructor or a professional fly-fishing guide. He credits his father, noted sculptor Gene Tobey, for never pushing him or his siblings toward careers in fine art. In fact, it wasn’t until he took an art course at Western State College of Colorado that the art bug bit him. He soon switched from pursuing a degree in recreation to earning a degree in sculpture. Tobey, who now divides his time between Texas and New Mexico, chalked up accolades and kudos early in his career and hasn’t looked back.
Has your style or approach to your art changed since you first appeared in Southwest Art? I am doing more wildlife now, giving them human traits and personalities. And my work is a lot larger in scale.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far? My galleries are some of the best in the country, and I’m proud of that. Also, for several years, I’ve been the top-producing sculptor for Deep in the Heart Art Foundry. And last month I married Jo, my partner of five years. She makes up half of Josh Tobey Studios.
Would you have done anything differently? No. I feel like I’ve been riding a winning horse.
What advice do you give to artists just starting out in their careers? Sculptors should work closely with foundries and galleries, because it’s a symbiotic relationship.
What motto do you live by? Always bet on yourself.
What artists have influenced you? Carl Rungius. Some other sculptors I admire are Bill Worrell, Tim Cherry, and Bob Guelich. Plus I was fortunate to grow up knowing a number of top Southwest artists, like Frank Howell, who were friends of my parents.
What are you working on now? I’ve spent the last year doing big stuff—lots of life-size pieces. Right now there’s a pair of donkeys in my studio.
What’s your next big goal? I would like to do more museum shows.
Adagio Galleries, Palm Springs, CA; Astoria Fine Art, Jackson, WY; Bronze Coast Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR; Exposures International, Sedona, AZ; Gallery 822, Santa Fe, NM; Lynch & Kennedy, Skagway, AK; Sacred Dancing Gallery, Bigfork, MT; www.joshuatobeystudios.com.
Contemporary Masters, Adagio Galleries, January 9, 2010.
Valentine’s Show, Gallery 822, February 12-13, 2010.
Anniversary Show, Gallery 822, May 7-8, 2010.
First appearance in Southwest Art: 21 Under 31, September 2002
Price change since then: They’ve gone up at least 25 percent.
Featured in “Success Stories” in December 2009