Delta Sculptor Works Magic With Nails, Rocks, Rebar
by Caitlin Switzer
Feb 27, 2011 | 3186 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<b>MOTHER’S TALE</b> – Chuck Christie’s public art sculpture contains more than 300 pounds of nails. (Photo by Carolyn Bellavance)
MOTHER’S TALE – Chuck Christie’s public art sculpture contains more than 300 pounds of nails. (Photo by Carolyn Bellavance)
DELTA – Take hundreds of nails, a healthy stash of bottle caps, a century-old stump and the desire to create. Add concrete, smooth stones, steel rods. The result: A work of sculpture as unusual as the artist and the community from which it sprang. “Mother’s Tale,” by Chuck Christie of Delta, is one of the many fascinating pieces showcased in this year’s Public Art eXperience display in Montrose.

A resident of Delta since 1974, Christie has spent much of his life as a recreation programmer and stonemason. When he reached age 50, he realized he had other goals to achieve.

“I decided I could no longer ignore my personal needs,” Christie said.

In the ensuing nine years, he has used his unique perspective and the materials available to him to create sculptures as rich as imagination itself.

Evocative and mysterious, “Mother’s Tale” has been featured in past years through Grand Junction’s Art on the Corner program, and is now on display through Montrose’s PAX. The piece is currently tucked into a garden corner beside the Elks Civic Building downtown.

Growing up in Aurora, Christie found himself drawn to the arts, creating nail collages with added media back in junior high school. He began to experiment with sculpture 25 years ago, building his first piece with a stump from an old gold mine near Breckenridge. However, a demanding life as a recreation professional, stonemason and parent took much of his time after college. Christie relocated to Delta, where he had relatives, as a young man. There he met and married his wife and raised three sons.

In addition to his work as a masonry contractor and owner of a wholesale stone supply yard, Christie spent years setting up recreation programs for special populations and encouraging others to use the arts as a therapeutic tool.

“There is a term, ‘work leisure,’” Christie noted, “it means that you have become so involved in a work that it no longer feels like work. It’s a good thing! We find it in the arts in all their different aspects – from music to writing to sculpture – the list goes on and on.”

As he sculpted “Mother’s Tale,” Christie was soon immersed in ‘work leisure.’

“I put in hundreds of hours,” he said. “It started out like a lot of mixed media – you use what happens to be available to you that is financially feasible. I worked one nail at a time. At a certain point, a work of art takes over and you just have to go with it.”

A 100-year-old stump from an old tree that Christie’s grandparents had cut down became the base of the piece.

“I hollowed it out, and filled it with concrete,” he said. “I added steel rods at the top for the rocks to be threaded on. I wanted it to be structurally sound, and to withstand the rigors of time – those are important aspects when it comes to outdoor sculpture.”

“Mother’s Tale” now consists of more than 300 pounds of nails, and weighs close to 2,000 pounds overall. Christie said he is pleased with the placement that the City of Montrose has given his work.

“It belongs in a botanic situation, amongst the plants,” he said.

With a magic that far outshines the sum of its parts, “Mother’s Tale” is now offered for sale through PAX, as are all of the works of art in this year’s display.

While passionate about his work, Christie remains humble about his accomplishments as an artist.

“It’s a way to experience creativity for yourself,” he said. “Most people have the ability to create if they will only explore.”

PAX, which coordinates a yearly sculpture display in downtown Montrose, is a subcommittee of the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism in partnership with the City of Montrose. All works of sculpture on loan through PAX are offered for sale to the public.

Over the past five years, PAX has contributed $46,350 worth of sculptures to the city’s permanent sculpture collection. The most recent PAX acquisitions are Montrose artist Jerry Dunbar’s “Buddies,” and Ridgway Sculptor Michael McCullough’s “Red Fox.”
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