I come from a family of artists. My mom and her dad, brothers, sister and sister-in-law have all painted, sculpted, done printmaking, etc., throughout their lives. Add in the next generation and you have many more cousins doing the same (plus me, not a painter but I dabbled in many artsy things until finding my niche in photography). So, it's not new that my uncle Wheatley Allen (yes, Wheat!) has work to share - he's been sculpting his whole life, and has done very well just making a living from his art.
He's been commissioned by US presidents, foreign heads of state, and many other important people for his beautiful bronze birds. I'm not sure how it happened, but Wheat started sculptured all birds from a young age (mostly sea birds, but some nearby owls, etc., too), whereas his brother, Peter, sculpted only sea mammals throughout his life. Consequently, we have some beautiful bronze quails and otters in the family!
Anyway, when I found out that Gump's, a big, fancy department store in San Francisco, is now carrying a selection of Wheat's sculptures, I offered to photograph some portraits of Wheat and his birds in Gump's. We had a quick shoot and a lot of fun.
Next I will be photographing his beautiful wife, Rosemary, in her painting studio, and am thinking about paying a visit to the foundry that casts Wheat's birds. Who knows where this project will go next? Maybe I need to get in the studio with my mom, my aunt Suz... any volunteers?
A few shots taken on my vintage Yashica with medium format (120) b/w film:
This is one of Wheat's favorite pieces:
I love the sleek, smoothness of the bronze in these birds, and the rugged whorls of the driftwood he used as a base for others. Amazing!
Gump's didn't have two of my very favorites - I think they might've sold out already - but here they are on Wheat's website. So beautiful!
Owl in a Fence Post
the Quail Family
(I often try to explain how wonderful Quail families with babies are, darting around in the springtime, and I think Wheat has captured it beautifully!)
(One final note - I have a certain nickname amongst the Allen family, and it was given to me as a baby by none other than Uncle Wheat. Anyone want to know what it is? :))