RICHARD STARKS Description
Richard Starks is a builder of shapes. Since his childhood, Starks has always thought three dimensionally. Because he taught metal arts to high school students for many years, he has built an intimate relationship with the process of creating flowing abstract forms from sheets of metal. This deep understanding of the various steps of cutting, assembling, welding and finishing is evident in each of Starks's sculptures, yet each work seems to have been effortlessly hewn from a single block of metal, as if carved like stone. His years of designing custom weight-building equipment gave him invaluable problem-solving experience, which is apparent in his gravity-defying sculptures, such as CT-15 Ringer or CT-77 Corkscrew.
Stone sculptors often talk about the stone directing them, communicating what it wants to become. Starks, in contrast, clearly defines the direction the sculpture will take, beginning from a sketch or taking a shape he has already invented to a new twist. His influences can be traced to Eduardo Chillida, Clement Meadmore and the ordinary tool or toy, which he glorifies through witty enlargements. Starks favors the velvety look of Cor-Ten steel, a natural complement to the greens and blues of outdoor landscapes, but will use bright colors when appropriate, such as in his Child’s Play series of stacked giant building blocks.
RICHARD STARKS Statement
For more than 50 years, working metal into imagined shapes has been my fascination. All the sounds, the sparks, the flames, and the smells of metalworking were my inspiration to get started. Watching the molten puddle while I form a new weld is a hypnotic experience for me. A flame or arc around five or ten thousand degrees can’t help but grab your attention.
Working with stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum has given me an appreciation for their characteristics – some similar and some totally unique.
Some of the shapes I create now are inspired by the various things I dreamed up when I was a youngster. I spent endless hours doodling with pencils and pens. I made shapes in the dirt in my back yard, or in the sand at the beach. Sometimes I would even carve shapes in watermelon, or in chunks of cheese, then draw them with paper and pencil before happily devouring them. Later on in school, I took drafting and drawing classes where I learned formal techniques in visualizing and drawing shapes. Most of my work today originates from imagined shapes I have created in my mind and in my sketchbook.
All my work is TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welded because of its quality and strength – it’s the best. Many artists teach themselves how to weld; I learned by taking many classes in high school and college. I’ve also worked as a welder and metal fabricator for many years. All these experiences have heightened my ability to shape and weld the forms I imagine.
Viewing a finished piece is always a revelation. The sanding process blends all the surfaces and edges together so that the shape looks like it has been carved from a single, solid metallic chunk. Walking around the new sculpture and checking out all the different views is an exciting experience. When asked which of my works is my favorite, I always answer the same way: “The one I’m working on right now.”
More than 30 years of teaching metalworking techniques and skills to high school students have given me a lot of inspiration to create new sculptures. So many shapes, and so little time to build them: I can’t wait to get started on my next project.
RICHARD STARKS Resumé
2017 "sculptureWALK," Sculpturesite Gallery, Glen Ellen, CA
2011-present Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture, Valley Springs, CA
2011-present Yountville Public Art, Yountville, CA
2006-present Columbia Neighborhood Center Public Art Project, Sunnyvale, CA
2013-2016 Orinda Public Arts Program, Orinda, CA
2012-2016 Cloverdale Public Art, Cloverdale, CA
2012-2016 City of Los Altos, CA
2010-2015 Wells Fargo Performing Arts Center, Santa Rosa, CA
2014 Filoli Gardens, Woodside, CA
2011-2014 "Anne and Mark's Art Party," annual fundraiser for Arts Council / Silicon Valley Creates, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, CA
2012 "Midsummer Art Celebration," Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
2011-2012 Geyserville Public Art, Geyserville, CA
2011-2012 Gilroy Art and Wine Stroll, Gilroy, CA
2011 "51st Spring Art Show," Lodi Community Art Center, Lodi, CA
2011 Sierra Azul Sculpture Garden, Watsonville, CA
2011 Silicon Valley Open Studios, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
2011 "Midsummer Art Celebration," Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA
2011 Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA
2008-2011 "1st ACT Silicon Valley" participant
2010 Silicon Valley Open Studios, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
2010 Saratoga Art Festival, Saratoga, CA
2010 Sierra Azul Sculpture Garden, Watsonville, CA
2010 Gilroy Center for the Arts, Gilroy, CA
2010 Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA
2009-2010 San Jose State University President's house
2009 Gilroy Art and Cultural Exhibit, Gilroy, CA
2009 Silicon Valley Open Studios, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
2008-2009 Sierra Azul Nursery outdoor sculpture, Watsonville, CA
2008 Solis Winery, Gilroy, CA
2008 Clos LaChance Winery, San Martin, CA
2007-2008 San Jose State University Gallery shows, San Jose, CA
2004-2008 City of Los Altos Outdoor Public Sculpture, Los Altos, CA
2007 Carmel Art Festival, Carmel, CA
2003-2007 Gilroy Art and Cultural Exhibit, Gilroy, CA
2006 Camden Community Center Public Art Project, San Jose, CA
2005 City of Santa Clara Indoor Sculpture Exhibit, Santa Clara, CA
2005 Rancho Soquel Art Show, Santa Cruz, CA
2004 East Side Union High School District Faculty Art Show, San Jose, CA
2003 City of Santa Clara Indoor Sculpture Exhibit, Santa Clara, CA
1998-present Producing large metal sculptures
1984-present Custom welding business
1970-2005 Teacher of Industrial Studies (metals, art metals, auto, wood, drafting, electronics, art, math, and freshman orientation), San Jose high schools (Piedmont Hills, Santa Teresa, Oak Grove, and Independence)
1977-1998 Designed and manufactured fitness equipment
2005-2011 Eleven semesters of advanced sculpture and public art classes at San Jose State University
1969 Standard Secondary Teaching Credential, San Jose State University
1968 B.A. Industrial Studies with Art minor, San Jose State University