So, you’ve seen them in national television broadcasts and local sporting events, but do you ever wonder what really goes on to create those iconic sculptures we all know and love? In this blog post we delve into the thoughts and processes of MTM’s star sculptor, Jack Nortz.
Jack started his artistic career as a wood carver in 1976 after meeting an amazing driftwood artist at an art show in Syracuse, New York. When he moved to Oklahoma in 1978 he added sandstone carving to his ever-widening repertoire. A short 9 years later, Jack started sculpting and carving for MTM Recognition, picking up clay sculpting as well. His devotion to consistent quality is unrivaled in the industry. Even now, 40 years after picking up a gouge and chisel, his personal mantra remains unchanged: “The tools and materials change, but the sculpting is the same.”
Jack takes a similar approach to the beginning of any project. He claims he doesn’t draw very well, so he depends on pictures from the internet to get the sizing and poses just right. He begins with a small model, a sort of demo for the final piece. This is both a part of his creative process and a necessary part of MTM’s approval procedure. After that, Jack uses one of several methods to enlarge the sculpture to its final size. Sometime he may simply scan pieces, while other times he might choose to cut pieces from foam. It all depends on the type of sculpture he is currently creating.
But Jack is about so much more than process and procedure. He loves to approach each project with the eyes of a child- his favorite aspect of the creation process is the beginning, when he gets to gather information and envision the final design. “It’s a high that is in me that is hard to explain. It is kind of like jumping off a cliff into a lake. It’s the anticipation that get’s the heart pounding when you’re looking over the edge, not the jump itself.” But the life of an artist isn’t always picture perfect. Strict client specifications and the occasional stifling of creativity can be difficult to deal with. But even so, Jack says it’s all worth it in the end.
Although Jack has been privileged enough to create hundreds of sculptures, one stands out above the rest: the beautiful sculpture he created for the University of Oklahoma Gymnastic Center. The only instruction he was given was to construct a “generic, life size male and female gymnastics figure” for display outside of the facility. Jack’s creativity took flight, and “Equilibrium” was born. Just over 11 feet tall, the bronze piece features two graceful figures that appear to be made of intertwining ribbons. Jack came up with the idea for the piece by chance one day, noticing the beauty in a simple piece of cloth billowing in the wind.
However, while “Equilibrium” has been Jack’s favorite as far as creative license is concerned, he is also a huge sports enthusiast. Jack still gets giddy each time he has the privilege to challenge himself with sculpting famous athletes, from the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award to the Brett Hull statue outside St. Louis’ Scottrade Center.
So there you have it, the behind-the-scenes story of each fantastic sculpture. It is an incredible honor to have Jack Nortz as a part of the MTM team, and we are beyond excited to see what he has in store for us in 2015. Thank you Jack!