STARR GIDEON KEMPF
Art Legacy For The Ages
by Dan Gleason
Starr Kempf's artistic destiny began while gowing up in a Swiss Mennonite settlement in Ohio, where in his spare time from farm chores he would whittle animals from wood. He has become a one-of-a-kind, celebrated sculptor, painter, novelist and playwright.
After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1947, Starr and his beloved wife, Hedwig, along with their three children, Madelin, Michael, and Charlotte; left the farm in Ohio and moved to Colorado Springs to begin a new life. Beginning in 1948, Starr designed and handbuilt the family home, which contains his handcrafted furniture, artifacts, and ornamental ironwork. As they started with nothing, Hedwig's work as a registered nurse and physical therapist enabled Starr to afford the materials necessary to build the home and pursue his art. He also made and sold ornamental iron benches, gates and lanterns to homes and businesses throughout the town.
Starr began working in bronze sculpture in 1955. He created 52 bronzes, which have been favorably compared with the best of the old European masters. He turned his garage into a foundry, designing and building his own equipment and furnaces in which to cast the bronze reproductions. He employed the lost-wax process, which is very intricate and time consuming and dates back to ancient Italian artisans.
In 1975, he began producing his eleven massive, kinetic wind sculptures which range in height up to 60 feet and weigh up to 2.5 tons. They have the brillance of aluminum but are actually made of heavy guage steel. "Dad would sandblast the steel to a white metal, then apply a coat of zinc chromate followed by 2 coats of silver paint," expains his daughter, Lottie, who is the conservator of the estate. "The monumental kinetic wind sculptures can also be reproduced from stainless steel," she added.
Starr Kempf's home, located in the Cheyenne Canyon area displays his towering monumental wind sculptures with the majesty of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. The exhilarating wonderment that tourists experience when visiting the Starr Kempf estate is due to the fact that the monumental masterworks stand in joyful testament to his creative vision, superlative engineering and mechanical expertise. Every attention to detail, down to the precision bearings for flawless mobility, has been laborously thought out, crafted and assembled. These eleven wind driven kinetic sculptures testify to Starr's stature as one of the great artistic visionaires of our times.
Starr Kempf worked right up until his death in 1995 at the age of 78, finishing everything but the sandblasting and painting of his eleventh and final sculpture. An autobiographical novel was completed also and one of his plays, The Journeyman, was produced and acclaimed at the Pasadena Playhouse. In 1991 and 1993 respectively, Starr was awarded the Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado.
For more information about Starr Kempf's sculptures, call the Starr Kempf Sculpture Garden and Gallery, LLC at (719) 633-1364. Visit the website at www.starrkempf.com.