Jumbo the Elephant
Photo courtesy Steven Whyte
Monterey Bay's Steven Whyte has carved out an amazing art legacy in figurative bronze and continues to draw attention for his work along the Central Coast.
By Otis Conklin
Renowed sculptor Steven Whyte keeps a low — and mellow — profile, preferring time with his wife and everpresent English bulldog Lord Wellington over most everything else. But his work is literally and figuratively larger than life. It took a helicopter to install his massive Jumbo the Elephant (above) at Tufts University, for example, and for this furiously efficient artist, the results stick around forever.
Whyte has crafted no fewer than 46 life-sized and larger bronze figures in public around the world. Those sculptures and figurative bronzes occupy a wealth of commissioned public memorials and installations on both sides of the Atlantic, including a towering vision of 1957 Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow at Texas A&M University. More recent works involve a deep cast of characters: A 16-figure piece entitled National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military appears in San Diego; a mountain of Cannery Row figures populates Steinbeck Plaza in Monterey; and his Column of Strength sculptures (right) of the so-called "comfort women" recently went up in San Francisco to honor the Imperial Japanese Army's sex slaves of World War II.
Last year, Whyte was awarded Sports Artist of the Year, Sculptor, by The United States Sports Academy and The American Sport Art Museum & Archives. In December 2016, the Smithsonian Institution acquired Whyte's bronze bust of Congressman John Conyers Jr. for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. But the greatest honor he receives happens on a more visceral level.
"I like it when the work affects people who weren't expecting it — emotionally," Whyte says.
The artist has added a new demo gallery workspace at the beautiful garden setting of the Barnyard Shopping Village in Carmel. (His former workspace in the heart of town is now more focused on display.) He calls it the best studio he's had, fully customized and airy, and despite its location outside of Carmel proper, it has become a destination for those wanting to see a master at work.
To see more of Whyte's work, visit stevenwhytestudios.com