47 East 200 North, St. George, Utah 84770
Phone: 435.627.4525 Fax: 435.627.4526
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10-5
3rd Thursdays 10-9pm with Art Conversations at 7pm
September 22 through December 29, 2012
Main Gallery For the Love of Travel & Art by Sue Cotter & Spike Ress
Mezzanine Gallery A Dream by J. Kirk Richards & Brian Kershisnik & Metal Imagined by Matt Clark
Legacy Gallery Gallery 12
Art Conversations at 7pm
October 18 Sue Cotter & Spike Ress
November 15 J. Kirk Richards & Brian Kershisnik
December 20 What is Real Pt. 3: Do Titles Matter
October 26 & 27, 2012 “For the Love of Art” Home Fundraising Tour
Matt Clark is a lifelong resident of the southern Utah region and grew up on a ranch north of St. George. He taught himself to weld and work with metal beginning at age fifteen when he purchased a welding machine. Little did he know his early interest in working with metal attaching trailer hitches would lead to a career as a full-time metal sculptor.
As a child and teenager, he dreamed of becoming a world champion cowboy, but at age 17, he experienced a serious spinal cord injury. After more than two months in the ICU and six months in spinal rehab, the doctors dismissed him to a rest home and gave Matt three years to live. Medicine offered him no hope for a future, but something deep inside him said, “Wait a minute. I am going to define my life.”
Thirty-four years later, he still works from a wheelchair. His physical limitations have required him to create his own tools and processes for doing things, but his accident has also gives him the opportunity to recreate himself. This is perhaps expressed best by the inscription on my sculpture The Healer, displayed at the Craig Hospital Healing Garden in Denver, Colorado: “My body has been broken and may not heal, but my spirit can and will transcend my limitations.”.
Matt writes, “Creating objects of beauty is not my goal as an artist. Beauty is intended to please the senses with an immediate response. My intent is power of expression, which for me is deeper than the senses, contemplative, even spiritual.”
He credits his success in the art world to business acumen. Clarks says, “I was bored one afternoon and had a pile of scrap.” He welded up a dinosaur and was surprised to find that “people liked it.” He started by making gifts for friends and family, and then he moved on to selling his work.
The steel, stainless steel, copper, stone and found objects he uses in his art were originally created to perform a specific function. At some point, the discarded now found objects had outlived their usefulness, were broken, and without value. Matt surrounds himself with them and asks the question “What is the best purpose for this object?” He then searches for each piece’s innate power and then resurrects it and gives it a new life through welding, cutting, grinding, and forging. For him, the transformation of these objects is symbolic of his own journey—of ultimately transcending broken dreams and heartache. His artistic process is a reenactment of his life’s journey.
“I did not set out to become an artist, and I had no arts education,” he says. In fact, he had studied business in college and had been working as an administrator at Dixie State College. Clark didn’t know he would have such a successful art career, or that his business background would be so important to his achievements as a sculptor.
“There are a lot of talented individuals out there,” says Clark. “But if you lack the ability to market your art and manage your art business, it is dang near impossible to earn a living as an artist.”
A capable marketer as well as a sculptor, Clark sells his work in Juniper Sky Gallery in Kayenta, through art festivals, private commissions, and interior designers. His work falls into two main categories: the whimsical and the contemporary both formed of natural rocks and welded metal. Festival goers may remember his roadrunners, rock animals, and other creatures on motorcycles.
Some of his recent accomplishments and awards include: 2009 presented with the Art Around the Corner Partner in the Arts award; 2004 purchase award winner for the Art On the Corner competition in Grand Junction, CO; 2004 first place sculpture St. George Art Festival; 2002 best of sculpture at Art in the Park, St. George, UT; 2000-2001 first place in sculpture at the St. George Art Museum’s Regional Exhibition; 1997 best of show award at Art in the Park; Displaying artist for three years at Loveland Invitational Sculpture Show in Loveland, CO
His advice to artists who want to make it on art alone: “Get rid of the pre-conceived notion that an artist has to fail or be poor, and replace it with extreme confidence and a positive attitude. Be willing to combine art and business. Understand the role of art in people’s lives and be willing to interact with people on a professional basis.” (stgeorgemagazine.com April 2006)