Q&A with local artist and sculptor Dale Evers
Paso Robles artist and sculptor Dale Evers is driven and resolute in his desire to create and to go big and bold. One of his recent endeavors is the 24-foot tall, one ton, Mega Focus at Sculpterra Winery. Evers is an eccentric dreamer and a story-teller who lives as if everything he has ever done is leading to his next big thing. I was curious about his story so I asked him a few questions:
How did you start your career?
Well, for starters, I was blessed with wonderful parents that nurtured my creativity. Mom was a painter and I think I was inspired by her love of art.
After I got out of the Army I moved to San Luis Obispo to go to College. Ironically I never took an Art class… Go figure. All of my art education was driven from within. It was my intense love of nature that drove my art. I would go up to Big Sur and drag old redwood rootstock back to my friends shop in SLO and carve Whales out of them. I eventually I started casting bronzes of my wooden whales. You see, at that time I was inspired by world renowned whale sculptor, Randy Puckett. When I saw his work it really drove me to be better. Meanwhile, Lahaina Maui was fast becoming the marine art capital of the world. In 1986 I entered the Hawaiian art market and the rest was history The Lahaina art market was hotter than a habanero; anything that looked remotely like a whale or dolphin sold. Looking back on it I realize that I was very fortunate.
How many sculptures have you sold in your 36 year career?
There was a period in the 90’s that I was selling hundreds of sculptures per month. My business partner and manager, Tim Anderson built a foundry in a building I owned in Morro Bay so we could cast our own bronzes. Those were some amazing years, but owning your own foundry can turn out to be a huge headache. So after five years of operation we closed it down and went back to sub-contracting our casting operations.
Ok, so how many sculptures did you sell?
Over 20,000 in 36 years.
How does one sell 20,000 sculptures? Do you feel like you were over-commercializing your art?
Well let me put it to you like this: most successful artists have had to prostitute their art to finance their creative fantasies. That’s just how it is. Yes, I commercialized so go ahead and stone me! Fact is, 99-percent of unsuccessful artist don’t commercialize. In my mind a measured mount of commercialization serves both the artist and the public in a positive way. Let me explain: By having small sculptures and jewelry of your best designs you give the general public the opportunity to own a piece of your career and at the same time the sales from smaller commercial works pay the rent.”
Who is the most interesting person to collect your art?
For sure, Patty Hearst. She was such a historical figure in America, not just historical; but she had a trippy history shrouded in controversy. I ended up spending several days with Patty and her late husband (Bernard) quite a while back and I was in a constant state of awe even though I was very comfortable around them. It was my first time to stay at their Hurst Estate Property, Wintoon on the Mcloud River in Northern California. I still have a watch that Bernard gave me that I still cherish. I found them to be down-to-earth gracious people.
You mentioned that nature figured prominently into your art. Can you tell me more about that connection?
Oh man, from an early age I was absolutely enamored with nature. It was really surfing while growing up in San Diego that turned me toward the ocean and everything in it. Out of High School I joined the Army and ended up being stationed in Hawaii. That took my all things marine passion to a whole new level. I got heavy into free-diving at that time of my life and that ultimately led me into underwater photography
Why underwater photography?
Well, the main reason I got into U-W photography was because I wanted to chronicle my diving experiences. Ultimately it was my desire to capture marine creatures for my studies. If I wanted to create a Sea Turtle Table I would go and photograph turtles. Just the experience of gathering my own photos enhanced the entire creative process. I also developed a creative philosophy early on that proved to be extremely important in my career: 1. Encounter 2 Be Inspired by the encounter and 3. Leverage 1 &2 into inspired works of art. I would plaster my research photos all over my working space.
So it seems that you started your career as a marine artist only. Looking at your work three decades later and it’s all over the map. Your life’s work is the work of four different artists. How is that?
I get bored fast and need dramatic change to keep me interested. Moreover, art subject matter is usually not timeless and art collector’s demand change as well they should. Eventually even good art gets old if it is overdone.
Ok, here’s what happened: The 80’s and 90’s were dominated by marine oriented art. At the turn of the millennium I had an encounter with a swarm of dragonflies in the Kings Canyon and that encounter inspired me to create insects for about seven years. About the same time I began designing a line of sculptural lighting that covered all sorts of subject matter.
In about 2007 I became friends with (Internet Pen pals) Mexican National, Francisco Quiroz. Quiroz was the owner of ART21 Studios in Guadalajara. About that time I lost my marriage and I had a breakdown. Francisco invited me to come and work under his guidance. I stayed with him at the studio for two months pulling my life back together. Francisco became my mentor and pushed my creative skills way beyond my comfort level. This was the beginning of the Zapopan Collection and the birth of the “Focus”. Focus, AKA “The bow and arrow man” exploded and it served as a rallying Icon for my emotional recovery. Thinking back I can tell you I was a mess and I really owe a debt of gratitude to my dear friend and mentor. So anyway, I eventually began working on a line of mixed media Guitar Sculptures that culminated in the exhibit, Guitars.
Wow, that’s an interesting series of events. Are you still working in Mexico?
Yea, I’m down there working and fishing about four times a year.
What type of art are you creating in Guadalajara?
Francisco and my team at ART21 have been creating large monumental figurative works as well as smaller collectable pieces. ART21 is a studio-foundry and most of what I do there ends up in bronze. A couple of years ago we cast a 24’ tall “Focus” sculpture for Sculpterra Winery in Paso Robles, Calif.
What’s the next big thing for Dale Evers?
I was hoping that you would ask. I’m working on a jewelry line in silver and bronze and it’s a lot fun. Right now I’m working on a 12’ tall chair that I refer to as the Sacred Heart. It is very sculptural and whimsical and. It has a wine theme running through it. I’m mostly trying to stay inspired. As I get older the next big project is to find inspiration. Without inspiration it can get real lonely.