- Arts and Design
A Unique Sculpture Art Form and Artist
What is Fine Art?
One would think it easy to define art as it surrounds us in every day life. The variety and types of art forms are numerous and make statements of interest to the viewer. And if you asked each person what they thought of a certain artist's rendition of a painting or sculpture, you would get a different answer from each.
Fine art such as sculpting was not truly recognized as art until modern times. It is unfortunate that the works of Michelangelo's David and The Pieta were not recognized for the timeless beauty, truth and reality they portrayed to mankind of that era. Now as time plays out, we appreciate how art bridges nonorganic forms to mankind through the connection of detail to life. A work of art emerges with the artist's concept much more easily in today's world then in the past. Although the interpretation of art may differ in the eyes of the beholder, today our perception of it as an expression of beauty is widely accepted.
The art forms created by Greg Mendez are unique. They are life-sized metal sculptures meant to inspire a sense of life's fluid movement through time. Each piece is well designed and reflects the vision of the artist, but he will be the first to tell you that the observer will arrive at his or her own sense of beauty in the sculptures.
Does life inspire your view of art?
Meet the Sculptor
Gregory Mendez is a nationally recognized artist of metal sculpting. He graduated from the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana in the study of fine arts. During his college years, he studied the works of a former local artist, David Smith, who inspired his creation and mastery of metal sculpting. Through his observation and study of the welding technique as a means of creating sculptures, he began to visualize the fluid movement of this type of art form.
The following are Questions and Answers from a recent interview with the artist. By the way, did I mention that Greg is my nephew? We are all very proud of him as a person and of his art.
Question: What inspired you to create metal sculptures?
Answer: When I was a boxer, my family and I would have some time between matches to visit local museums and parks. I was fascinated by the outdoor display of sculptures in the parks and noted the beauty they added to the surroundings. Then, in college I took on a painter's job to help pay my way through and it was this experience that led to my vision of movement and art. I would notice my stretching upwards, fine brush strokes, and the direction or flow of the paint and it clicked, "artistic expression is similar to our movement in life." I used this motivation to design life-sized metal figures.
Question: Where do you get your inspiration? How do you decide upon a name for the piece?
Answer: My inspiration comes from observation of life and nature. I name my creations from science fiction novels and gaming characters, such as Halo. The Fat Tony sculpture is one that comes from this experience. I also use real life models to design and inspire character into the pieces.
Question: Did your family inspire you as a child to pursue your career in art?
Answer: You know, I have thought more upon this question recently because others have asked me how my family life played into my career choice. I look back and remember the times my family had to clear the fields on our land. We would often walk the plowed land afterwards looking for arrowheads. I would look at the relic and think how someone in the past took the time to make these by hand. They have become timeless pieces of art.
Question: Your sculptures are quite large. How do you pack them for travel and then set them up for display? Are they made to endure the natural elements?
Answer: Each piece may weigh between 200 and 400 pounds. Either the purchaser will pick them up or we will install them. They are dismantled in sections and then easily assembled upon arrival. The sculptures are designed to balance upon a base and will stand up under various weather and natural conditions.
Question: What is the process in creating your sculptures?
Answer: After the blueprint design is set, it may take anywhere from six hours or more to weld and bend the metal pieces. I use simple tools, basically a hammer, vice, hand saw or power tool, and grinder to form the image.
Question: You participated in the Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk last year. This venue is highly popular and draws top artists and cultural interest from all over the world. Your sculpture Rapturous Arcs won a prestigious award. Congratulations! Will this now be a permanent part of the city's sculpture walk?
Answer: No, it will go on to possibly eight other cities that are connected to the sculpture walk events. Each city will display the sculpture for a year, if not purchased, then it will continue on to the next sculpture walk destination. Some of the states involved in this art venue are Minnesota, Wisconsin, California and Iowa. As cities are renovating their downtown areas, these sculptures are added attractions and create a sense of artistic beauty to the area.
Question: What advice would you give to young artists?
Answer: Find a mentor. Observe and learn from people in the field. Your education is valuable, but the real learning comes as you work under those who have the skill and experience. I worked with Cary Shaefer, who is known for the gargoyle sculpture's final finish at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., for four years. I learned much about stone sculpture from this man. I was very fortunate to have his mentoring.
Fine Art Sculptures On Display
Some of Greg's sculptures are displayed in his hometown of Decatur, Indiana. The local Adams County Hospital and the Decatur Library both host his sculptures on their premises. Greg also serves as chairman of the newly formed Decatur Sculpture Walk Committee. His hopes are to help area artists gain recognition and inspire them to pursue their dreams.
Currently, he is working on eight sculptures to become part of a private collection. He enjoys his work and seeks only the recognition of his art being a motivating expression of life to others.
The artist has offered interested artisans his contact information should they desire a closer view of his work: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read about his latest artwork at North Iowa Today.