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jim crane - sculptor

about jim

Crane grew up in the Carmel/Monterey area of California.  He won his first art contest in sixth grade.  After graduating high school in Monterey he attended Fresno State where he earned a BA in social science. He also attended San Jose State and then on to the University of California at Berkeley where he did graduate work in art and political philosophy. This set the stage for his interesting and diverse art career spanning 60+ years.

 

“After graduating I had an opportunity to go to Pakistan.  While there I set up a studio.  I had my first one-person show and gave lectures for USIS on sculpture in America.  More importantly, I experienced a radical confrontation with a vastly different culture on a visceral level.  There is nothing like finding your first dead person in the street, seeing unimaginable privation and fanaticism, especially for a California “Wonder Bread” kid who grew up in a culture that doesn’t see anything.”

 

“On returning to the United States, I had a lot of emotional things needing to be expressed.  I realized I was capable of this, as I had an epiphany on the way home at the Tate Museum in front of all my heroes.  I knew what I had to express was valid.  I started working in an elongated figurative style, sculpting starving figures with empty eyes.  I completed about fifteen sculptures in thirteen months and had a show in San Francisco.”

 

“There I met people who were involved in a Holocaust project.  This is when I began the concept concerning Anne Frank.  My research began with the famous diary.  Afterwards I read everything I could get my hands on connected with the Holocaust and the persecution of the Jews during WWII.  I knew the culmination of the research had to be a trip to the Netherlands and the Anne Frank House and Museum in Amsterdam.  I had to see the place where Anne, along with her older sister Margot, her father and mother, Otto and Edith Frank, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter and Fritz Pfeffer spent over two years in hiding. Otto Frank, being the only survivor after being found by the Nazis.”

 

“I went there.  I spent 6 weeks there.  I saw the place, the diary, the notebooks.  I viewed historical documents, photographs and films.  It was a sobering exhibition on the persecution of the Jews.  I was struck by the philosophical importance of Anne Frank’s symbolism; her expressions of warmth and the belief in man’s goodness, even while surrounded by cruelty.  This is the optimism that allows mankind to survive.  With this epiphany I was able to visualize the sculpture I would do.  “The Homage to Anne” would be that of a proud young woman in the midst of pleading figures looking to her for strength.”

 

“I returned to California and started to work.  Over the course of two years I completed two sculptures.  The largest being over 10 feet tall, representing Anne’s spirit, the smaller, a seated figure pleading for help and understanding.  During the time I was working on these figures, a National Geographic photographer spent an afternoon in my studio in Monterey.  His published photo was seen by Anne’s father, Otto Frank.  He wrote to me and we had a brief correspondence prior to his death.  I have treasured those letters.”

 

“After the completion of “Homage to Anne,” I began a series of sculptures about individual isolation, which eventually led to another series, dealing with relationships.  Hence, a number of couples and family groups.”                                                                                                       

 

“I moved to New Mexico in the spring of 1983 and established a bronze foundry in Corrales where we poured art bronze and designed and fabricated custom architectural works.  The southwest had a profound effect on me, my art changed again.  I began pieces inspired by the grandeur of landscape, sculpting monuments, arches, canyons and spires.  At the same time looking within, I began working on the “Zen of Rocks.”

 

“My view of art is that it is an ever-changing process, as life is ever changing.”