Special Assignment

An old art form gets new life

CREATED Jun 24, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The Wanner Sculpture Studio has been open since 1970, and has built up a reputation for making unique sculptures the old-fashioned way.

 

In their studio on Milwaukee's north side, Jordan Wanner works alongside his father Dave. "The essence of art is beauty, so that's what we're trying to capture."

But capturing bronze beauty, especially at 2,000 degrees, isn't easy. And it takes time. Months from conception to cooling.

"There's a lot involved. Physically. Mentally. The process can take sometimes up to a year and a half, depending on how large the statue is," Jordan says.

One example, a work in progress--Saint Camillus. When complete, it will stand on the campus of the retirement home of the same name, just north of the Milwaukee County Zoo.

It's a long process bringing it to life. First clay. Then forms. Over 30 pieces will be poured before it is welded back together by Jordan and his team. Jordan explains the process, "One stop shop. We start from the design and go all the way through casting and installation, everything."

Like the statues they create, forming the studio took time too. Dave recalls humble beginnings. "A bar of ivory soap, a pairing knife, and a kitchen. This all started with that."

As a young man, he was always interested in art. He learned all he could, and proudly passed it on to Jordan.

"My father taught me everything that I know. That was the greatest opportunity. Sometimes I get choked up talking about it. It's an opportunity that I've had in my life that I am extremely grateful for," Jordan says.

Jordan wants to carry on that father and son tradition. "I have three children and hopefully one of them or more than one of them will take on the tradition. I'm the 2nd generation. Hopefully there will be a 3rd and 4th."

While its not always easy working together, there is at least one thing the father/son team agrees on.

"The greatest subject we can think of in the universe is the human form," Jordan exclaims.

We are lucky to have the Wanner Sculpture Studio right here in Milwaukee. Jordan says there are only a few other studios like his in the entire country. The artists also create custom pieces for private homes.