Smoke Signals From Colorado
American Animal Sculptor Steve Kestrel And Wife Cindi On Front Lines Of Western Wildfire
At Wildlife Art Journal, dear friends Steve and Cindi Kestrel are in our thoughts. And we hope that you have them in your thoughts, too.
The famed American animal sculptor and his wife are holding out hope for a change in weather and a calming of the winds. The Kestrels live up Redstone Canyon in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies behind the college town of Fort Collins. During the last week, you may have heard how the High Park wildfire grew into an out-of-control blaze that has left an area covering dozens of square miles blackened. It is burning all around them.
A few years ago, the Kestrels built their dream home—a quaint structure inspired by the architecture of Italian and Spanish villas—near Redstone Creek. The intent was to live closer to nature and exist compatibly with their environment. Indeed, everything about the Kestrels is geared toward achieving high natural aesthetics. Cindi's gardens bring a palette of color and sweet edibles while Steve's ecological ethic—which flows through all of his bronze and stone work—is tiered to habitat protection for wildlife that dwell nearby.
From their back deck, the Kestrels have watched elk, deer, black bears, bobcats mountain lions move through the riparian area which is safeguarded as a preserve. As an indication of how collectible and acclaimed Kestrel's work is, his pieces reside in several major museums and private collections. We think he's one of the most exciting and innovative three-dimensional artists working today.
Kestrel with his masterwork 'Silent Messenger'
at the National Museum of Wildlife Art (photo: Todd Wilkinson)Kestrel is one artist who isn't afraid to talk about his concern for the Earth. We admire his candor and his willingness to have his art serve as a commentary on values. As scientific evidence continues to mount about climate change, many believe that the fires burning today in Colorado and New Mexico are evidence of how changing precipitation patterns stand to leave areas of the American West hotter and drier.
Not only are warmer temperatures considered a threat to snowpack and water resources, but changing conditions mean greater stresses on the wild, free-ranging animals that call the mountainous and prairie West home. People can argue about the weather but there's no denying facts and quantifiable data. Kestrel does't aim to make a political statement; he's trying to elevate the way humans think about our relationship with the natural world. One prominent museum curator told me not long ago that Kestrel is destined to be remembered as one of the great sculptors of his generation. (Those who want to learn more about Kestrel and his work can read a WAJ story here and a personal essay by Kestrel about the direct carving method here).
Meantime, as the Kestrels batten down the hatches up Redstone Canyon, we're hoping for rain and praying for your safety.
UPDATE: Word just arrived from painter Adele Earnshaw that sculptor Sandy Scott—who is scheduled this week to unveil her eagle monument at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole—has also been told to evacuate a cabin she has near Fort Collins. Sandy: we are thinking of you as well. Be safe.