Sculptor Looks Toward the
This article was written when the Mark Andrew Sculpture Studio was located in Carmel. It is now in Eugene, Oregon.
Carmel Valley sculpture Mark Andrew is deeply committed to his work and to the enduring magic of wood, stone and bronze. A master of the medium, Andrew feels that nature’s gifts - otters in swirling play, a boar running “hog wild,” or owls in a quiet moment of concentration - are worth documenting in material that will last the ages.
Andrew’s Sculpture Studio is located across Robinson Canyon Road from the Farm Center at mid-Valley. The large, old white barn used to be the Farm Center Community Hall. The rustic structure is perfect to accommodate the various needs of a sculptor - large working space, lots of storage for stones, tools and materials, and a shelter that can take wear and tear.
Andrew worked with Richard MacDonald (internationally-known Carmel sculpture), majored in sculpture at the University of Oregon and traveled extensively in Europe and North Africa.
“I have to make sure my every move is profitable, or at least bringing in some money,” he said. “Every day I have to make money - for one thing, I have a family, and my materials are very expensive. To make my bronze molds, I use a silicon rubber product which is extremely expensive, about $200 a gallon. I have to make sure that I believe in what I’m doing, and that it’s good.”
To transfer a stone carving to bronze, a mold is made with the silicon rubber. “I’ve been doing this for a long time so I’m good at being deliberate and planning what I do. I try to blend together the need to satisfy a market demand and the need to please the inner sculptor, in order to not give up the joy I have for carving,” said Andrew.
“They don’t teach you these things in college,” he laughed. “They give you all these great ideas about art, but they don’t teach you how to actually live a life of being an artist, how to pay the bills without giving up your dreams, which can be difficult, and at least stressful, especially if you want to have a family.”
Andrew feels fortunate that things have been easing up. He has been carving for many years now, putting in enough time that it is starting to come back in the form of many commissions, the most recent one, a rampaging boar in bronze, which he calls “Hog Wild.”
“Working in Carmel at Photography West and Sybill/Dawson (Richard MacDonald’s gallery), taught me to sell,” he said, “I have to sell my work just like anybody else. Now I get on the phone and call my clients who like to keep purchasing my work.”
Currently, Andrew is getting seek money to begin a massive project to document in stone and bronze the local and Central California Indians. He has been knocking out ideas in stone, which he says are his “sketch pads.” These stones become prototypes, which eventually evolve into final bronzes. “I’d like to have about six different designs in the this series, pieces that show the look, dress, tools and activities of the different groups,” he said.
“I get goosebumps when I think about the past. These people lived right here in front of us, doing activities and relating to their families much the same way we do. The real difference is that we have to buy our food at the grocery store, and they were self sufficient. I think there is something to learn from them.”
“I first got into carving,” he said, “when I went to Switzerland to live for a couple years in my childhood. The elaborate carvings, which appear everywhere, are part of their national heritage. They carve during the long, cold winters. Many buildings, such as taverns and homes, have incredible hand-carved wood ornamentation. These things are passed down through the generations and are the pride and spirit of the family. It really made an impression on me,” he said.
After studying for four years at the University of Oregon, Andrew broke out, traveling once again and settling in a small commune in rural Oregon where he threw himself completely into carving. It was there that he met his wife and the mother of his children. They came to Carmel and rented a house from Andrew’s parents.
His appetite to excel at his chosen medium led him to take his family to Florida, where they lived in a trailer for a year, while Andrew apprenticed with wild-fowl wood carver Daniel De Mendoza. “To make ends meet, my wife learned how to make custom shoes and we did it together after the kids were asleep,” he said.
“I know there are very few sculptors who actually rise to the top,” he said. “The failure rate is very high. To be great you have to jump into the frying pan and sizzle for awhile. I’ve sizzled for years, and I know I’m on my way.”
Andrew’s wealth of experience shows in his work. He is a seasoned and committed sculptor. His repertoire is ever-changing and he keeps growing in technique and exploring new subject matter. His pieces are on-of-a-kind collector’s items, and he is open to all commission ideas.