Issue Archives
Kinetic energy
The stance is at once distinctive and arresting: a grizzly cub leaning forward and watching intently as its mother demonstrates her fishing technique. The bears are cast in bronze, but the mother has a lifelike muscularity and the cub an endearing look of innocent attention. “Individual animals all have a personality trait if you just look for it,” says Montana sculptor Ken Bjorge. “The personality that goes with being a cat or a bear or any other critter is their signature, and it’s not always easy to capture.”

Bjorge then works his own artistic signature into the piece. “I like the motion involved in running or sneaking or flying. I tend to avoid subjects that are posed or completely at rest.”

Bjorge grew up in South Dakota, attended law school, practiced several years in Montana, and then became a law professor in Washington. He admits that he gave little thought to wildlife other than that it was always around him and he always appreciated it. Under the influence and encouragement of an Idaho sculptor, Bjorge decided to change careers and dedicate himself to original bronze sculptures. This was a major step. From his parents, who had survived the Depression, he had inferred that it was fine to appreciate art, but it was a bit frivolous to think of it as a life’s work. Bjorge made the break. In 1988 he moved to Bigfork, Mont., and his bronzes now appear all over the country.

His limited edition pieces range in height from less than six inches to a whopping 30-foot pair of eagles commissioned for placement at the Morrison Regional Library in Charlotte, N.C. He’s done everything from hummingbirds to elephants. And his human figures include Coach Jim Owens at the University of Washington in Seattle and running back Earl Campbell for the University of Texas.

For Bjorge the real work is the creation or modeling of the oil-based clay. “I’m an add-on sculptor,” he says. “I keep changing the core until I’m happy with the overall design. That’s never easy. The unending pleasure and the unending frustration result from daydreams that are like a mental blizzard. There’s no way I can do it all—get in all the flakes of snow. But I like the challenge.”

To see more, visit Bjorge Sculpture Gallery, 603 Electric Avenue, Bigfork, Montana, or visit www.bjorgesculpturegallery.com.