I believe that art is the gift of God. If you open yourself, creativity will pass.from
" – Susan Clifford
I have always appreciated Sedona Schnelli's monument standing at the entrance to the Sedona Public Library. The statue, a 10-foot-high bronze, depicts Sedona moving forward, her left arm extending, providing an apple from the basket, and a gentle smile on her face as if to welcome you to her city of the same name Sedona. This gesture provides a symbol of Sedona's reputation as a charming hostess. In fact, she and her husband grew up with apples, and their families doubled as a bed and breakfast to welcome tired travelers. The fine lines and contours of the statue are cleverly combined with elegant soft movements to make it glow. When I learned that Susan Kliewer was an artist, I wanted to see the female sculptor of the female pioneer.
Susan Kliewer took the time to carve at the Mountain Trails Galleries [www.mountaintrails.com] in Tlaquepaque. She invited me to go to the art gallery for an interview with me. When I arrived, she was making a small equestrian statue of the legendary Buffalo Bill.
Her friendly attitude and kind smile made me feel at home. I also appreciate her deep understanding and respect for the Navajo and Hopi culture and her passion for the history of the Southwestern United States.
Coupled with country life and constant contact with Navajo culture, her work involves detailed research, which she has been doing for about 30 years. For this reason, her main work accurately reflects the traditional American historical background she brought in her animated bronzes.
In addition to the statue of Sedona Schnebly, Kliewer also carved two life-size fountains: one to commemorate the Sinagua and the other to depict a Hopi Water Maiden. Kliewer likes these monumental projects and looks forward to creating more in the near future.
Susan Kliewer was born in Orange County, California. Her grandparents were the ranchers there before they became crowded. Although Kliewer is a talented sculptor, her first artistic enthusiasm is painting. She started painting at the age of 10 and decided she wanted to be an artist. As an interesting illustration, her father, Elmer Osterman [CA's fire coordinator], is the creator of today's popular icon "Smokey the Bear," based on the true story of a bear trapped in a fire. Therefore, it is not surprising that her artistic talent is running in the family.
In 1968, she and her ex-husband read the town of Sedona in an article published in the article. from
Arizona Highway from
And plan to go camping with their three children. They first came to Sedona on Memorial Day and immediately fell in love with the area. Kliewer and her family decided to move from California and buy Oak Creek Mobile Lodge for about four years as a mobile home.
One day, a California neighbor suggested that she run another type of business, a trading post in Marble Canyon. This is a remote area near the Arizona-Utah border, and even though she was initially hesitant, Susan now realizes that this is a very important step in her life: "This is a big deal for me. I don't want to leave the stuff. Donna is so much, but I am really happy that we did it because of all the new experiences that I will not have."
For the next five years, Kliewer learned how to run restaurants, motels, gas stations, post offices, and of course a trading post. “It’s like a small kingdom. A neat place! We met all the people who went down the mountain valley for white water rafting…so we have very good, very interesting guests all summer. No TV or any Electronic products, but a lot of music and singing at night "- She remembers smiling.
In his spare time, Susan continued to paint and became a very proficient portrait. Her inspiration comes from her love and interest in Southwestern culture. In fact, her son married a Navajo girl and her relationship with the Navajo was strengthened. Her Navajo friends and grandchildren have always been examples of her many bronze works.
After her unforgettable years at the trading post, Kliewer decided to return to Sedona: "I want my children to live a more normal life. They have to go to school 40 miles each time… to them. It’s really hard, they have an hour-long bus ride.”
Back in Sedona, Kliewer was the manager of the Oaxaca Restaurant in Uptown Sedona. However, when the restaurant is sold out, the new owner manages the restaurant himself and serves as a waitress. She remembers that it was a very difficult time for her since she divorced and tried to make a living. Kliewer then applied for work at a local foundry. Although she was initially rejected because it was “a man’s job,” she persisted and became the first woman in town to have such a job: “If I don’t, I won’t be engraved today. " – She claims.
But let us let Susan tell us the rest of her story.
M.S-B: I know that you started painting earlier than carving. How did you start carving? Do you have a mentor?
S.K: In… we are a foundry that works with many popular artists. I worked there for about ten years, became friendly with many sculptors, they taught me how to do things, and revealed some secrets.
In addition, most of the people working in the foundry are sculpture students from Flagstaff NAU, who are very fond of art and sculpture. The people around you are also a learning experience. During the coffee break, we talk about art.
The foundry owner is also very good, let us throw away our things after work. So, little by little, I am carving. I work closely with famous sculptors such as John Hampton, Joe Beeler and Buck McCain. They gave me a lot of help, especially Joe Beeler. He looked at my work and criticized them for me. He is a friend and we have done a lot together. Although I didn't even realize it at the time, it was a good education. I think I am a painter. I always paint. When I lived at the trading post, I made a lot of Indian portraits. So I carved the portraits of people little by little. I think there are reasons for these different jobs. Trading days, foundry days and all my other experiences helped me do what I did… and it was always fun.
M.S-B: Do you still paint?
S.K: I still draw often. At least once a week. For example, my husband Jeff and I have just returned from the California coast, we have been painting outdoors. We paint together and use oil on the canvas. Jeff has been painting for two years and he likes it. Painting outdoors is difficult because the light changes quickly. You have to work very fast. We get up and draw in the morning and afternoon. It's exhausting because you have to work so fast, but it's really fun. If you want to see them, I will draw some paintings at the Sedona Art Center Gallery. The Sedona Art Center is a great place with lots of workshops and exhibitions. When I first moved here, I went to the art barn for a watercolor course and met other artists and teachers in this way. In many ways, this is a big help for me.
When I was working in the foundry, I wanted to carve, but I didn't know how to build the frame, the armature, which made me back down. When I became very serious about carving, the researchers working at the foundry encouraged me to take action at NAU. It is called "the anatomy of the sculptor." We have to make muscles with clay. We did the whole body for a semester and then, the head. This is a very good anatomy course that helped me get started. This is a very important step.
M.S-B: How did the sculpture of the Sedona statue come from?
S.K: The project was sponsored by the Red Rock Art Council, which sponsored the Sedona Sculpture Walk. They organized a competition with Sedona Schnebly as the theme of the bronze monument. People participated in the competition and submitted the model [from
Small handmade modelfrom
] Show what their "Sedona" will look like. Then, at Sculpture Walk, they have a jury, and of course, people choose to vote for the best work. When I won, I was very excited because it was really important to me and I was selected for the eight finalists.
M.S-B: How did you make the facial features of your sculpture Sedona Schnebly so accurate to her?
S.K: Um… I borrowed some photos of Sedona from my home. They are very happy about this, so this is good. I was very helpful to meet her great-granddaughter Lisa Schnebly, she is a very kind person. She wrote a book about children in Sedona. She imitated me, everyone in her family thought she looked like her great-grandmother. So this is a collective effort. I carved Sedona for about eight months at the Sedona Art Center in the main gallery. In the summer, many people come to say hello and watch me work. This statue is 10 feet high. I have to climb the ladder to go to work. Fun.
M.S-B: Can you explain the different stages in the process of carving bronze?
S.K: When you start sculpture, you must first make the frame, the armature. It is made of aluminum wire and galvanized pipe. It provides support for clay. Then, you put the clay on it and work from the inside out. The oil-based clay I use does not dry out. When you finish this work, you bring it to the foundry and mold it. Sometimes artists like to do it at home, but I would rather let them do it, so I can focus on my artwork.
The clay original is coated with a plurality of layers of silicone rubber to form a mold. Each layer of rubber must be dried for 24 hours. The average mold takes two weeks to complete.
In order to manufacture bronze castings, the foundry applies hot wax to the rubber mold. This is done with a coating until the thickness of the wax is close to a quarter of an inch. As the wax cools, the mold is disassembled and the wax removed.
Next is the slurry, silica based solution. The wax was immersed in the slurry and dusted with silica sand and allowed to dry. The process was repeated eight days a day with a coating. The result is a ceramic shell coated with wax. It is placed in a furnace and heated to melt the wax. Next is the bronze pouring. The shell was placed upside down in a box of sand and the molten bronze was poured into the shell. After cooling, the ceramic shell is chiseled and sandblasted. Then you have to do metal processing, welding and grinding to recreate the bronze. Next apply the color, which is called patina. This is done by using a torch to heat the bronze while applying oxidizing chemicals. This is the last step, it is an important part of the bronze color. It's really complicated. It takes about six weeks to complete all of these steps. Every step must be careful, and the completion of bronze is perfect.
M.S-B: Thank you Susan for your time and extraordinary learning experience.