Pete Helzer, Sculptor
Public Art
 Abstract Explorations


Peter Helzer earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture in 1983 from the University of Oregon. He runs his own bronze foundry on a small farm in the foothills of the Calapooyia Range in Dexter, Oregon where he lives with his wife Marge and border collie, Winnie.    




I have studied sculpture with Russ Svaren at PCC, Fred Littman at Portland State, and Jan Zach /Paul Buckner at The University of Oregon. Because such mention might be construed as my way of “getting even,” I feel compelled to confess that their influence was less than it should have been, and they should not be slandered, held accountable or otherwise banished from any fraternal organizations. Clearly, I have spent too much time reading THE FAR SIDE and not enough time redefining postmodern sculpture. I point out, however, that what you see here may actually represent the next wave in the evolution of sculpture, i.e., POST post modern sculpture! Or if that has been covered, I hereby nail my flyer on the neo-post-postmodern post and proclaim to keep doing exactly what I have been doing . The truth is, what I do allows me to spend a good bit of my life chuckling while fending off creditors at the same time. I also enjoy the added advantage of not having to go to faculty meetings; and best, it saves me the great agony of having to justify my existence in whatever language constitutes this year’s educational reform jargon.

When I look back over the last twenty years, I am struck by the many ironies that litter the trail. Several times in the past I have designed good sculptures and submitted them to public competitions only to have them flatly rejected. I have also submitted mediocre ones that have won right away. A recent commission was awarded to me based on the submission of a small scale model that I built ten years ago. I had used this same model to enter - and promptly lose - at least a dozen competitions. I have no way to explain the previous rejections or the recent acclaim. This is why I have always done my best to ignore the politics of the art world. I tend to guard my quiet country life far from the cultural centers of this country. Dexter Oregon is nothing like New York City, which is precisely why I live here. This bias made my transition - some twenty years ago - from the academic world of teaching to the sobering business of making a living through the sale of my sculpture in some ways easier than one might expect. True, there was the requisite dose of poverty, but as far as my disposition went I was in good shape. This was because I was never quite as disgusted by discriminating public taste as my academic peers. As a result I suffered much less mental anguish when my work was actually praised in discriminating public newspapers.

To date I have completed sculptures for parks and public buildings throughout Oregon. I am likely to continue to persevere as long as continuing continues to amuse me. I am fully aware, however, that in art - as well as in life - there are no guarantees. This is why, at the bottom of my business card, it reads in the finest possible print I could find: “no refunds.”  

Helzer © 2024