Gallery Artists > Thom Wheeler Biography :

Thom Wheeler (b. 1946)  Artworks >>

Thom Wheeler creates wall pieces that command attention, hand-crafted metal sculpture that fit many descriptions--classic, comic, sophisticated and playful. He prefers non-porous metals, and devotes much attention to detail. "Polish and texture, that's the thrill." He collects stones from all over the world and says he has even used ostrich eggs, and "I've sliced ivory cue balls like pieces of baloney for a certain look." He calls his pieces "wall jewelry" and works with a variety of tools including diamond-bladed band saws, grinders, sanders, buffers and welders. Born in Alice, Texas in 1946, he was raised in Liberty County in a semi-rural environment. He learned to work with his hands from his father, whom he described as "an artist by sensibility." Wheeler began making found-object sculpture in 1964, but full-time commitment was interrupted by service in the U.S. Medical Corps in Europe from 1969-1971. However, being in Europe, he spent a lot of time in museums studying Renaissance art, and he combined his commitment to being an artist with metal and carpentry skills he learned in the Service. In 1975, he graduated from Sam Houston University. He then had a career in Houston as a sculptor, creating contemporary three-dimensional and wall reliefs for commercial and public spaces such as hotel and bank lobbies. He says: "The Houston sky was filled with cranes and skyscrapers in progress. Now, half of those buildings have something of mine inside or out--fountains, doors, sculptures. Some of the locations in Houston where his commission work can be seen are The Grand Hotel, the Cullen Eye Institute, Heritage Farms, Reed Took Company, Arena Theater, the Orbis Foundation, and Harry's Kenya Restaurant and Bar where there is a mural 8 feet by 42 feet of brass, copper, steel, and cast aluminum elephants. He is extremely proud of being selected the commission winner of the 1980 March of Dimes "trophy" sculptures to honor Dr. Jonas Salk and Madame Francoise Gilot. In 1985, Wheeler moved to Taos, New Mexico, built a two-story adobe home and foundry on Kit Carson Road, and began concentrating on smaller pieces with a feeling for the icons, such as gypsy women faces and crosses, of the West and Southwest. Of this work, he says: "You could call this my interpretation of Indian jewelry." In New Mexico, like Texas, he has been highly successful and getting much media attention. In April, 1988, he was featured artist in The Santa Fe New Mexican magazine; In June, 1991, he was the cover artist of Pulse magazine, October, 1992, cover artist of Taos Magazine; April 1993, featured artist in New Mexico magazine; and in May 1993, was cover artist in Traditions Southwest. He also won a major commission for a mural at the new hospital in Taos in 1994, and was voted Maverick Award Designer, April 1996, for the Taos Taking Pictures Festival. Source

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