The Michael Garman Museum & Gallery Newsletter
May 15, 2018
Issue No. 51
In This Issue
Happy 80th Birthday Michael Garman
Prairie Rose - 80 Years of Inspiration

The 50th Issue  of Adventures of a Vagabond Sculptor  is here!

Just in time for his 80th Birthday, we invite you to meet Michael Garman's newest sculpture - over 10 years in the making.  

Happy 80th Birthday - 
Michael Garman
May 15th, 2018

Prairie Rose - 
80 Years of Inspiration
May, 2018

Truth be told - women mystify me. I always get asked why I don't sculpt more women, and I wish I had a better answer. Female characters were some of the first ones I ever made. But they've always been the most challenging to get right.

I fell in love with a woman over a decade ago. She's actually a compilation of the many women I've loved. Her independence and beauty combines with a fierce temper and relentless loyalty. When I close my eyes I see her as real as if she is standing right in front of me.

So I tried to sculpt this amazing woman. I tried to bring her to life like I had done with so many of my buddies - Saddle Tramp, Tuck, Pathfinder. These men came out of my head, through my fingers and into the clay so easy. Longshooter - for example - was my miracle man. Four days after thinking of the guy, there he was, ready for the mold. He came out of me so quick that I couldn't sleep or eat until he was finished.

My women have never been easy. I suppose they're not supposed to be. I've never met one who wasn't a thousand things all at once. The women in my live have been my loves, and by far the most complicated beings I've ever met. A female sculpture is no less complex. From the way she stands, the placement of her hands, the curve of her neck, the set of her chin - there's no way to fake it. No way to make it easy. Sculpting a woman is an art in and of itself.  And I'm simply not as good at it as I'd like to be.

Still, she haunted me for years - this composite of all my loves and heartbreaks. I started sculpting her 2007, then pushed her away in my studio, discontent with my puny efforts. I practiced my skill on the guys I knew - the heroes of my childhood, the rough and tumble buddies who take up so much space in my imagination.
When I create a new character, I get fully wrapped up in the story.  I'll be talking to this lump of clay about who I think he should be and listening while he tells me who he really is.  All the while, there she stood at the back of my studio, reminding me that there was another story to tell. Someday, when I had learned enough, I would finally be ready to tell her story.
Then came the shortness of breath. Then came the tightness in my chest. Then came doctors - so many doctors - and oxygen tanks and stints and endless time to sit and stare at the incomplete woman in my studio while I breathed air from a cannula hooked over my ears. 

Medical experts gave me just 2 years to live. "Get your affairs in order, Mikey." At that time I was surrounded with unfinished characters. So, in a burst of energy, the kind a dying man finds from deep inside, I finished about a dozen sculptures. But my lady, my love, I could not find her story even then.

In 2009, I left Colorado for a lower altitude. And what do you know? I didn't die. Under the care of new physicians, I got my strength back bit by bit. I created a few more characters - including a Mexican Revolutionary series inspired from my Texas roots. Then, about a year ago, the tightness in my chest returned. Waves of fatigue blurred by days while heaving for breath.

As my 80th birthday neared, my doctors told me I'd need to undergo a pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (a heart-lung operation). If there was a chance of dying on the table, I knew I had one more thing to accomplish. So I came back to Colorado. There she was - still in my studio, still waiting for me to get my act together, as women often do . So I finally did.

Prairie Rose will be revealed on my 80th Birthday. She's not the one love of my life - she is all of them. She tells a thousand stories. My flawed hands made her - the weathered hands of an old man remembering all my loves, all my adventures, all my romances and broken hearts. She is the best I could do. And I am damned proud.