Hey, Spike! zeros in on Mountain Art Festival sculptor | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! zeros in on Mountain Art Festival sculptor

Miles F. Porter
Special to the Daily

Even though bronze wildlife sculptor Ted Schnack Jr., is doing his first Breckenridge art show in the 34th Annual July Art Festival this weekend at Main Street Station, he knows this town like the back of his hand.

Schnack is among the 100-plus juried fine artists displaying their works Saturday, July 1, through Monday, July 3. Admission is free.

For five years, starting in 2000, Schnack was a Breckenridge Police Department patrol officer, pounding the downtown beat after working in law enforcement in Golden for another five years.

Schnack's been on the customer side of the booth while visiting the previous shows on duty. Now in a display tent, he's looking out.

As a big game hunter, writer and sculptor Schnack has a story to tell.

His bronzes are a large part of the tale, saying, "Almost every piece I have was inspired by a real event, a real contact in the rawest of wilderness. The bronze 'Rut Strut' was inspired when deep in the wilderness on a backpack trip, I was spitting distance from a hard rutting bull elk, covered with wallow mud, bugling, growling and showing off to the uninterested cows in the herd. My bow went undrawn as the wind shifted, the herd gone forever except the deep burn it left in my memory and now in bronze."

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After leaving the Kingdom of Breckenridge, Schnack became a civilian defense contractor in some of the world's hottest war zones:

"I took my police skills, teaching life saving and critical skills in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kosovo and Jordan," he says from his home in Denver.

"Some of my pieces were sculpted in dangerous places. I could let my fingers, tools and mind go and get caught up in bringing a lump of clay to life, with the background noise of machine gun rattle or the thump of an explosion," he explains. "It was a great way to reconnect with the wild places and animals I love half a world away."

Schnack is a self-taught sculptor, admitting, "I didn't pick sculpture; it picked me and once the gates opened I can't stop and could live a hundred lifetimes and not catch up to what I want to do."

Schnack can be found, or not found, deep in wilderness areas solo — one on one — with the animals he sculpts for lengthy periods of time.

"I know these animals better than any of my family and friends. I believe strongly to sculpt deeper than surface visuals, and peel back the layers and really find the animals' character, know their slight gestures, nuances and wild expression. You really need to know them on a deeper level to sculpt from the inside out, you owe them a certain truth," he reveals of frequent mountain treks in search of inspiration and experience.

This week he was over by Leadville, helping a New Mexico buddy scout elk for a planned bow hunt, likely providing background for a story and bronze.

As a writer, Schnack's stories have been featured numerous times in high-profile international magazines including Sports Afield, Sporting Classics, Big Game Adventure, African Expedition Magazine, Bugle, Eastman's Hunting Journal, HuntinFool, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Big Horn Society and Colorado Bowhunter.

Here's an example of his intertwining hunting big game and war zone experiences brought to life for readers of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Bugle magazine.

Small Advantage — A Bull Built for Combat:

"The path God has laid has led me far from my beloved Colorado high country, about as far away as possible to war. My vistas no longer misty meadows and timberline but now concrete blast walls, razor wire and gun towers. My backpack has been traded for body armor, my bow for a machine gun. Eyes, ears and instincts no longer search for a flicker of gold through timber or brush, the crack of a twig, a distant bugle, but for a suspicious person with a strange bulge underneath an untucked shirt, an over loaded car with sagging springs driven by a lone male, the telltale zip of a missile, frequent rattle of gunfire, the warm sound of a distant boom."

Schnack will return to Breckenridge for the 16th Annual Main Street Art Festival set for the weekend of Aug. 4.

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com.

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