Downtown gallery hosts open house for sculptor

By Tony Parra

Art enthusiasts will have an opportunity to admire sculpture works from a man whose bronze sculptures have been purchased by people from around the world during an open house from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Curtis Ford, a sculptor, will travel to Portales and be at the Investments Out West Fine Art Gallery, which is owned by Sam and Marilyn Rigsby, where his work is on display.
Investments Out West Fine Art Gallery also carries sculptures and paintings from different artists.

Rusty Torgeson, art gallery director of Investments Out West Fine Art Gallery, said during the open house on Friday there will be country music from Randy Green of Clovis and Dave Nash of Floyd in front of the art gallery. Turgeson said the gallery has been open for approximately two years.

Ford, a Western artist, creates clay sculptures and he sends them to a foundry in Hoka-Hey Art Foundry in Dublin, Texas to have them cast in bronze.

Ford graduated from Tatum High School in 1956 and after spending time in northern New Mexico he came back to his roots and is living in Tatum. Ford later met a friend in Tucumcari who introduced him to clay sculpting.

He started sculpting then and after 45 years of sculpting he still continues to create artwork re-telling tales of the old west. He started by sculpting on the side while he was doing ranchwork, but in 1978 he decided to do it full-time.

“If I’m going to do it, I might as well do it full-time,” Ford said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people while I’ve been sculpting and through word of mouth, people from around the world have purchased my sculptures.”

Ford said he sculpts Native Americans, horses, cattle, cowboys and other scenes from the old west. He said he has also sculpted bears, mountain lions and deer. Ford said each piece is personalized for the buyer. He said he’s had requests to sculpt cars, but didn’t do it.

“The subject has to be the history of the west or wildlife,” Ford said. “I do work that I can relate to and that deep in my heart I have a love for. I try to put excitement into the sculpture.”

Ford said it costs thousands to have the clay sculpture cast in bronze, depending on the size. Ford said a life-sized elk cost $50,000 to have it cast in bronze. Torgeson said Ford puts a lot of attention on each detail.

“He does a lot of shows and is on the road a lot,” Torgeson said. “It’s really an amazing process to create the sculptures out of clay.”

According to Torgeson, studying a sculpture piece will bring out more of the story behind the creation.

“He’s a story teller in bronze,” Torgeson said. “There’s a story behind each piece about life in the west and how it was. It’s a great opportunity for people to visit with the artist and sculptor to get some insight into what he was thinking.”

Torgeson said new businesses and revitalizations in the downtown area are an encouraging sign. Congress allotted $200,000 toward renovating the Yam Theater, which sits across the street from NoWhereElse, a gift store scheduled to open on Nov. 1 and the Territorial Restaurant opened up near the art gallery.