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Colorado sculptor, Steve Kestrel, carries on the legacy of such prominent twentieth-century sculptors as José de Creeft, William Zorach, and Constantin Brancusi. Born in 1947, Kestrel became fascinated by animals and the environment while growing up in southern New Mexico. As a youth, he hiked in the Sacramento Mountains, studying geographical formations, fossils and Native American artifacts. He studied natural sciences at Eastern New Mexico University and sculpture at Colorado State University. After college, Kestrel worked as a furniture maker and wood carver, but it was not until 1982 that he was able to turn to sculpture full-time, taking up the direct carving method. Boris Gilbertson, a Santa Fe carver, encouraged Kestrel to unite his interests in paleontology and zoology with his love of sculpture, and soon Kestrel was creating his signature works.
Striking a balance between realism and symbolism, Kestrel creates representations of animals that both reflect his respect for the materials and for the innate essence of his subjects. Whether working in smooth, elegant bronzes or the rougher lines of granite or schist, Kestrel’s sculptures reflect the inspiration he finds in the landscape of the American West and the profound and dramatic changes that landscape has undergone in recent decades.
Every piece is an experiment. Sometimes the stone suggests what it wants to be and at other times I have an image in my mind and look for a stone to accommodate the idea.
– Steve Kestrel
Kestrel’s sculptures have been widely exhibited and praised. He is the recipient of the Prix de West Purchase Award in 2013 at the Prix de West Invitational, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 2012, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Sculpture at The West Select, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona. Kestrel is a member of the National Sculpture Society and the Society of Animal Artists. His work is included in such collections as the Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana; the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin; the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming; the Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, Kansas; and the Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado.