Meet J. Michael Wilson, otherwise known as Mike Wilson, Sculptor Extraordinaire. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Mike during lunch with one of my good friends, Karen Scherer, who has known Mike for over thirty years and has had the pleasure of watching him progress into the well respected and sought after sculptor/artist you see pictured in this post. Our conversation that day brought about the subject of some necklaces I had sketched which involved me sculpting little contemporary figures on a swing and immediately Karen thought of Mike and began telling me all about the day he pulled up to her house with two huge horses on a trailer, that’s clay horses by the way. Living in California at the time, Mike would drive to the Tucson Foundry, with a stop to visit Karen along the way. By the end of her story she grabbed her phone and said, “Here, let’s give him a call”. What a nice guy! We talked for a few minutes and later through texts to exchange emails, as I let him know how much I wanted to share his life’s passion and images of his beautiful sculptures. Needless to say I’m a huge fan of his work. See for yourself..
Bio and Commissions below.
See http://www.jmichaelwilsonsculptor.com/ for more images and contact information.
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MICHAEL WILSON BIOGRAPHY
J. Michael Wilson was born in 1953 in Santa Monica, California and raised in the South Bay. He had a childhood fascination in art, racehorses, and the desire to design and build functional works of beauty.
Wilson began college at California Polytechnic University, as an Animal Science major, in 1971. Several years later, in 1978 Wilson returned to college to study life-drawing and sculpture at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California. After one of Michael’s sculptures was selected to represent the United States at the First Annual International Art Exhibition, he was invited to apprentice with sculptor Albert Friscia in Rome, Italy. It was there, he realized that life as a sculptor appealed to him.
In late 1982, Wilson wanted to try and make a living as a professional Sculptor. His first paid commission was to create a life-like doll head for Mattel Toys. Next was a bronze horse for Lloyds Bank, followed by a sculpture of John Henry, Thoroughbred Horse of the Year. March 1983, the Artist submitted a concept drawing which was selected by the Olympic Organizing Committee to do a life-size Horse and Rider for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, in Los Angeles. Also commissioned was a smaller version of the sculpture he presented to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the night before the games at Fairbanks Ranch. In 1986, Wilson was commissioned to do a sculpture of Tommy Trojan on Traveler for the University of Southern California. It seemed Wilson’s horses were becoming a solid request from many art enthusiasts.
In 1988, Wilson’s father was diagnosed with bone cancer. In less than one year, treatments had failed and his father passed away. An image appeared to the Artist of a Native American Indian holding up a buffalo skull as a gesture to heaven for giving him a good life. Seeing the correlation between this image and his father’s battle Wilson began work on a life-size bronze titled “The Offering”. Human figure studies were now the primary focus for the Artist. Remembering the hours of drawing and study in Italy, the human form took on a new dimension. Not only did he find the body beautiful but there was an emotion attached to it. It’s all about what the viewer feels, and remembers, that matters most to Michael.
In 1990, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences requested Wilson’s talent to sculpt the bust of Paddy Chayefsky. Since that time, Wilson has created 7 more busts for the Academy’s Hall of Fame, Tom Brokaw being among the last 3. In 1996 he was commissioned to do (2) Emmy sculptures, 18 karat gold-leafed and 14 feet tall, permanently displayed in the Academy’s theater.
The next several years would include commissions from Paramount Pictures, the University of San Diego, the California Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association, Del Mar racetrack, the Divine Mercy Cathedral in Stockbridge, Mass., and the YMCA in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In 2007, Wilson was awarded the commission to sculpt Dalton Trumbo, American screenwriter black listed in the late 1940’s, for Legends of the Grand Valley, in Grand Junction, Colorado. Since then, he has created 2 other monumental bronze sculptures including John Otto on horseback, for the Colorado National Monument.
In 2011, the Artist teamed up with Mountain Trails Gallery and Adonis Bronze to create a monumental, bronze, depiction of a Cracker Cowboy, his dog, and 13 Cracker Cattle, now installed in the Brownwood developement at The Villages, Florida. He is currently working on a similar commission for Sedalia, Missouri of a cowboy, his horse and dog, and 4 Texas Longhorn, in a scene from the 1800’s. This monumental bronze is scheduled for installation in Fall 2013.
Throughout the last 30 years, Wilson has continued to grow in his field, participating in sculpture workshops and seminars, as well as teaching fellow artists. Almost all of the Sculptor’s years have been spent gratefully working on commissioned bronzes.
1984 Summer Olympic Games Los Angeles, “Victory’s Gate”, Monumental Horse & Rider, Bronze
1984 Presentation Bronze to Prince Philip, 1984 Summer Olympic Games Los Angeles
1986 University of Southern California, “Spirit of Troy”, Horse & Rider, Bronze
1990 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Paddy Cheyefsky”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
1990 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, “Ken Schiffer”, Bronze
1990 Paramount Pictures, “The Laughing Duke”, Bronze
1991 University of San Diego, “Bishop Maher”, Monumental, Bronze
1991 Howard/Platz Group, “Power and the Passion”, Monumental Horses, Bronze
1992 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Fred Coe”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
1993 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “David Susskind”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
1995 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Emmy”, (2) Momumental Figure
1996 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Dick Clark”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
2001 Brigham Young University, “Cougar”, Presentation, Bronze
2002 Divine Mercy Cathedral, “Saint Philomena”, Bronze
2003 YMCA Fort Wayne, Indiana, “Ove W. Jorgensen”, Bronze
2007 Legends of Grand Valley, “Dalton Trumbo”, Monumental, Bronze
2008 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Tom Brokaw”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
2009 Legends of Grand Valley, “William Moyer”, Monumental, Bronze
2010 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Larry Gelbart”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
2010 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, “Fred Friendly”, Hall of Fame, Bronze
2011 Legends of Grand Valley, “John Otto on Rowdy”, Monumental Horse & Rider, Bronze
2011 Mesa State University, “Pres & Walter Walker”, (2) Bronze
2012 The Villages at Brownwood, “Cracker Cowboy & 12 Cracker Cattle, Monumental, Bronze
2012 Trails End Project, “Cowboy & 4 Longhorn Steer”, Monumental, Bronze – “Work in Progress”.
Thank you Mike for allowing me to share your story. Maybe one day Karen and I can visit you at your studio 🙂