Look into the life of a few of our Thunderbird Artists

Skip down to: Robert Ball, Rhonda Brewer, Charles Taube

Robert Ball

Robert Ball sculpture"Becoming an artist was not one of the things I had in mind as I was growing up" says wildlife sculptor Robert Ball. "In fact, the possibility never entered my mind until much later in life. Looking back however I can see a connecting thread leading from the past to the present. That connection was a love of wildlife and the habitat providing them from sanctuary."

Living in Lake Tahoe for many years and later moving to Montana gave Robert a great opportunity to observe wildlife and gain inspiration from the rugged and beautiful land. "My wife Rae Ann was really the first artist in our family. She had learned pottery as a means of financial survival in Montana during the 1970�s. Her pottery business was doing so well that I became her assistant to keep up on the orders. Even though this was challenging work and we were quite successful at it, there was a natural desire to change direction and wildlife sculpture provided and exciting opportunity."

Robert Ball sculpturePrimarily self-taught, Robert participated in a couple of workshops taught by renowned sculptor Gerald Balciar. "This provided a significant boost to my level of skill, inspiration, and commitment," he adds. Recognition came rapidly over the next few year with Best Of Show and Best Sculptor awards form National and International events such as the C.M. Russell auction; National Western Art Show; Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show; Oklahoma Wildlife Art Festival; and The Calgary Stampede Western Art Show.

Robert enjoys creating his works in the timeless medium of bronze. His sculpture brings forth the unique and often whimsical nature of the animal kingdom. " I believe animals are similar to people in that each is an individual in their appearance and behavior. I try to bring that out in my work by focusing on their body attitude and facial expression," he reveals.

Robert spends Montana summers and Arizona winters wife his wife Rae Ann, their dogs, and a menagerie of bunnies.

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Rhonda Brewer

Rhonda Brewer's BasketsBorn and raised in small town in southeastern Indiana�s Ohio Valley, Rhonda Brewer developed a love for art and horses while growing up on her parents� thoroughbred horse farm. As the daughter of commercial artist for the government (mother) and painter (father), it didn�t take long for Rhonda to start creating artwork of her own. At 5 years old she began with oil paints, and by 10 she had already sold her first piece. Her teacher purchased the painting of a lioness and her cub. By 14, she had expanded her artistic talent to include clay sculptures.

While maintaining a career in law enforcement, as well as a stint as a professional model for a hat company in New York, Rhonda continued her artistic pursuits. But, it wasn�t until five years ago when she and her family moved from Hawaii to Tucson, Ariz., that Rhonda opened her studio full-time to create unique creations that focus on the preservation of history in the Southwest. A specialist in several media, including lariat vessels, custom-made jewelry, bronze sculptures and paintings, Rhonda�s fine art combines select elements of nature with the distinctive characteristics of an Old West lifestyle. Her one-of-a-kind rope baskets incorporate authentic lariats collected from working cowboys at area ranches and rodeos. Once shaped by hand, the rope is gradually fused together by an innovative burning process that produces a unique texture and color scheme.

Rhonda Brewer's BasketsRhonda�s exotic jewelry designs feature authentic gemstones from around the world, creatively coupled with hand-carved products such as antlers, bone chips, fossils and turtle shells. These labor-intensive creations act as a tribute to nature�s primitive existence. The subject matter for Rhonda�s limited-edition sculptures reveals inspiration from an event or subject of beauty in nature. This exclusive approach is equally reflected in her acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings, as well as her soon-to-be-debuted collection of Southwestern-style ceramic dishes. A self-taught artist, Rhonda�s work is on display in several museum collections across the county, including the Tohono Chul Park Museum in Tucson, Arizona; Mataranga in Ridgecrest, California; and the Museum of Art in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, she has presented her creations at numerous juried events in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas. Rhonda credits much of her success to the support and inspiration she receives from her husband and the "greatest artwork in life" � their nine children.

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Charles Taube

After 28 years as a professional carpenter and owning a successful business building entry doors and gates for custom homes, Charles's life took an interesting turn. In 1996 as one of the founding members of Southwest Woodies (an antique car club dedicated to the preservation of the Woodie Automobile), Charles created his first hardwood sculpture given as an award to their show winner.

In August of 1997, Charles suffered a serious accident affecting the use of his left hand and arm. Three operations and hours of physical therapy left him with the loss of 70% use of his left hand. However, while searching for some meaning of the life he had before the accident, with his right hand, Charles created a second sculpture. Many more followed.

A negative comment from a loved one also pushed him to pursue his dream. In September of 2001 his fianc�e said, Your sculptures will never be anything more than a hobby to you! He felt betrayed yet decided to listen to his heart to fulfill what he felt was his life's purpose to become a full-time artist. He broke off the engagement to pursued his career, questioning himself for three years if it was a good decision of doing so? He has measured that by the joy in his heart and the sales of his work. "What I thought was total betrayal from my ex-fianc�e who I was truly in love with, was actually a gift in disguise, to which I am now truly grateful for", states Taube.

"Not only did my ex-fiance not believe in me, neither did any of my friends and family too! I felt betrayed by everyone close to me. I realize now that they just didn't want to see me fail in life. My ex-fiance saw my Live- Interview with Scott Passmore on Good Morning Arizona. She called me, telling me how amazed she was for what I had accomplished since are parting. My friends are now amazed also. They have even represented me at several Art Shows. My family, they are proud of my internal belief to be a successful, accomplished, artist when they initially felt that I never had any chance at all to be successful in any way, as an artist. And my left hand, I've now have 90 % of the use back in it, simply from forcing myself to use it over, over and over again in creating my sculptures . . ."

Self-taught, Charles's contemporary free-flowing hardwood sculptures are uniquely individual in themselves. Each sculpture composes distinction in one or more various hardwoods. He carefully selects kiln-dried hardwood with special grain patterns and color. He cuts, laminates, and shapes each created form smooth, applies several layers of clear finish, color-sands the finish, then polishes the sculpture. He signs, dates, applies felt to the base and the sculpture begins to "sing" in its completion of movement, form and natural color...

Charles's sculptures are currently being represented by Publicist : Sherry Butler Communications (Scottsdale, Arizona), Gallery Representation: Desert Art Collection (Palm Desert, California), European Design (Scottsdale, Arizona), Patina Gallery (Marble Falls Texas), Silver Heron Art Gallery (Depoe Bay Oregon) and JRB Art In The Elms (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma).

"I envision each sculpture,
bring it to life and my spirit is set free.
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