art-of-true-westOctober 2001—Greg Polutanovich’s tent lies on the ground.

As rain pounds down, Greg assesses the damage at the now-closed outdoor art show in Sedona, Arizona. Near one of the fallen pedestals, he finds a dangling hand.

Given Greg’s background in sculpting sci-fi creatures and horror monsters, you could figure the hand is in its precarious state on purpose. Sci-fi creatures often have misshapen parts.

In 1999, however, Greg ventured away from sculpting creatures for films such as Vampire in Brooklyn, Shattered and The Addams Family. Greg admits that “creature sculpting is fun,” but he adds, “if you can’t sculpt human proportions, you still have a lot to learn.” Ever ready to improve his craft, Greg delved into the study of human anatomy. When he felt prepared to portray realistic subjects, he picked legendary Westerners, such as Pocahontas, Wild Bill Hickok and Doc Holliday.

So whose hand is dangling so dangerously?

The hand belongs to an aging Indian warrior, a sculpture called The Final Arrow, which is also suffering from a loosened base. On another pedestal, the Grizzly Hunter’s base is dangerously loose. And then there’s the empty pedestal. Has Greg’s Neanderthal been stolen in the confusion? Already panicked, Greg briskly walks the perimeter of his destroyed tent. The frantic search reveals that the sculpture has rolled down a slope near the river. Greg is thankful his tent is surrounded by grass and not cement.

After carefully repairing his pieces, Greg sends them to the next show in his 2001 schedule, where he wins his first award ever for one of his Western pieces (his sculpture is also the first to win Best in Show) at the Cow Palace Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco. The prize-winning sculpture is none other than The Final Arrow, whose hand has been welded back onto the warrior’s shoulder. A gratified Greg says the award “really put the wind back in my sails.”

These days, at his home in Saugus, California, Greg continues to create Western sculptures, patiently shaping chavant clay to achieve the fine details and textures of his legendary Old West characters. “I usually declare my sculpture done when my patience has run out,” he jokes. His patience level must be at minus three because Greg will unveil three new clay busts at his August 6-8 show in Loveland, Colorado: a Native American woman, Crazy Horse and Wild Bill (see Greg working on Wild Bill at left). His finished bronze, Ranger, will also make its debut among his precast sculptures.

As he heads to yet another outdoor sculpture show, let’s hope the weather is more forgiving than it was in 2001. Even though Greg found his silver lining before, he can do without the rain.


Visit to view Greg Polutanovich’s artwork.

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