Art is a part of Clark’s soul, and has been since he was very young. Selling his first painting for $400 at 10 years of age was the start of his career in the colorful, captivating world of art.
“I was a sculpture and drawing major at the University of New Mexico,” Kirk began. “I was a ‘found object’ guy using automotive found objects-bumpers, fenders and things like that. I used to go to junkyards, eyeing these giant mounds of steel and stand next to the crane operator who moved the pile from one side to another.
“‘Stop, stop, stop!’ I’d yell, and run up the pile of metal, which would have probably cut my leg off if I had fallen, and pick up some odd piece I’d seen unveiled.
“What the heck are you going to do with these pieces of metal?” The operator shut off his crane to ask me the first time I went there.
“I’m an art student, a welder, and am having a show at the university. Why don’t you come and bring the other crane operators?” Kirk explained.
“There were five crane operators who came and were so amazed to see that what they’d been daily shifting around could be turned into something which had this visual impact on them. Three of the five became successful professional sculptures. They had never seen a sculpture in it until they saw the finished product made up of stuff they moved around every day.”
He and his wife Jeri, love to share art when they can. “I think public art is a reflection of our humanity,” he said. “Art, music, theater are all human expressions which are uniquely human. The thing about public art is that everyone in that community, and all the visitors, get to enjoy it and participate in it. It’s a reflection of what we find important which is the beauty of our humanity.”
The couple recently gifted to the Chamber the Stainless Gatekeeper, a welded stainless steel piece of found objects, sculpted by George Tobolowsky, standing in front of the Chamber.
“It’s one of his monumental pieces. He’s a real junkyard dog and has unique sources to find the unusual pieces he uses in his sculptures.” Kirk had connected with this artisan of “found objects” just as Kirk had been years ago.
“It’s a little bit of a snapshot in time to look at his work, the manufacturing era combined with a personal Tobolowsky whimsy. Jeri and I were happy we could purchase this for the Chamber. The reason I want to see public art is I believe it is a reflection of the wellness of a community-the consideration for all its citizens and visitors because it’s shared without cost.”