September 6, 2013 Updated: September 6, 2013 at 6:41 am
The RICHARD PANKRATZ 70th Birthday Retrospective Show - 6-8 p.m. Friday, runs through Sept. 28, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake; 481-0475, trilakesarts.org
The hustle and bustle emanating from the Tri-Lakes studio is more than workaday artist sounds. It's the pulling together of 50 years of artistic evolution for Richard Pankratz's 70th birthday retrospective.
He and gallery-owner-wife Linda aren't slowing down, just celebrating a very successful career.
Pankratz always knew he wanted to be an artist, probably a painter, and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. But growing up as a Kansas farm boy, he listened to his father, who was "concerned about how I was going to feed myself," and got his teaching degree instead. "God bless people who do this (teach) but it just wasn't me," he said, and after 11 years followed his dream. No more getting sick to his stomach at just the thought of the first day of the new school year.
Over the years he became well known for his pottery, raku, stoneware and ceramics, and many people from the area became collectors. "To be honest," he said, "the functional work (tableware, bathroom sinks) took hold because I liked doing it and I could make a living doing it. What I was doing with it was appealing to people."
Finding pieces to include in the retrospective proved to be elusive because, he said, “Our business was to sell pottery and we did one heck of a job. Most of that stuff is gone and has a happy home.”
Early on, during a vacation flight, the Pankratzes had made their bucket list and checked things off one at a time, especially all the places they wanted to visit. Once their children were out of college, while Richard still had a “full-fledged career in functional ceramics,” they looked at the list and one item remained: casting bronze. “I always had a functional, utilitarian line and a creative line and around the mid-’90s I said ‘you’re not making pots anymore, you’re making sculptures.’” So, sculptures and vessels went front and center.
Besides the Tri-Lakes area, his work is featured in galleries in Sedona, Ariz., Santa Fe, NM and Palm Desert, Calif.
LINDA NAVARRO, THE GAZETTE
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