On any given weekend at the City Museum, there's a good chance you'll spot sculptor Paul Bayer carving away on his dream project before you even walk in the door. An astounding 20 ton, 6'x6'x7'block of solid white marble, Bayer describes the piece as “probably my biggest achievement.” He continues, “It's a reminder to protect creativity for the children and the child in all of us so we can do things like creating something that's cool that we can all be a part of just like the City Museum itself.”
This work-in-progress masterpiece contains all the elements that make up what the City Museum stands for. It's a beautiful mixture of many different ideologies and cultures all culminating in a sculpture that has the power to inspire creativity in children and adults alike.
This has been Bayer's passion project for the last four and a half years, but his love for carving art started much earlier in his life and really exploded at the age of 17 when he received his first hammer and chisel for his combined birthday and Christmas present. “It was a big family and not a lot of money to go around, but I asked for it and that was my gift for the year. From there, I started carving in my spare time basically for 15 or 20 years,” he says.
He continued to hone his craft throughout his long and storied career, taking on commissions, teaching his craft in South Dakota and Colorado and finally landing where he is today, at the City Museum, 16 years ago.
There's hardly a stone variety out there that Bayer hasn't carved, and that makes his process fascinating to hear about because there are so many variables that it creates. As Bayer explains, “Certain stones you can't use hammer and chisel because you'll blow the stone apart. That's really important. You have to know what kind of tools to use on what material, and I carve a variety of stones: marble, granite, limestone, calcite, fluorite and all kinds.”
Once he's determined how to create his work, the excitement really begins. With each shaving taken off and each portion filed and sanded to his liking, his vision comes to life. In many of his pieces you can even see the evolution as it unfolded from his imagination. As Bayer puts it, “I like to show people what it starts from to what you can finish it to. You see a lot of art that is purely a fully finished, very smooth piece, but much of my abstract art is a combination of the two.”
Even with all the achievements that Bayer has made throughout his life, he still finds the most rewarding part of the job to be the reactions that he sees on kid's faces when they come to the City Museum. “Since I've been carving on the big stone outside for the past four and a half years, I've noticed that the first thing that happens when the kids get here is that they'll say to their parents, 'how far do you think Pauli got on that sculpture?' Every time kids show up here, they realize that they're going to see something new and to see how excited these kids get about what we do here is really amazing to me.”
To find out more about Paul Bayer and his incredible body of work, you can visit his website at paulbayer.awardspace.com or just come down and visit with him as he continues to carve what we're sure will be, and already is, a true masterpiece.