Artist: David Copher
David was born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1954, and a year later his family would relocate to Copperas Cove, Texas, where he’d spend most of his childhood and young adult life.
He was a fiercely independent kid, and while some point to his central Texas upbringing as reason for his difficult temperament, others swear he was born “ornery, in a frightfully creative way.”
Through his formative years, teachers and family were constantly surprised and impressed by his creativity, artistic talent and tactile skills – as well as his work ethic. He’d spend summers mowing neighborhood lawns to earn money, but unlike other kids, David spent his money on art supplies – buying canvas, paints, pens and sketch pads.
As early as 6th grade David was producing beautiful pencil and pen & ink drawings, advancing to watercolor, oils, and acrylic in junior high. His earliest subjects included wildlife, ranch hands, and rodeo cowboys – the colorful and interesting things he saw every day in his Texas upbringing.
By high school, his talents blossomed. David won numerous awards at every level, including Best of Division and Best of Show multiple times. By senior year, David was considered one of the area’s finest young artists – and athletes - serving as captain of the rodeo squad and football team as well.
After graduating, David worked in the construction trades, learning from the area’s finest craftsman. He would eventually find a foundry fond of finding new talent, and sign on as an intern. The work was grueling, but rewarding, as he honed his skills creating molds, casting, and completing sculptures that were complex, and beautiful.
He’d also continue his athletic career (no, not in the NFL), participating as a rodeo bull rider, bronco rider, and clown bullfighter to earn extra money. Today, Dave still performs around the nation as a PRCA rodeo clown and poet. But we’ll get to that.
The need for steady income pushed him out of the foundry into full time work. David launched PCI (Pinta Construction Inc.), a general contracting firm that designed and built residential housing and motels, including a number of Motel 6 properties across the nation.
As PCI grew to a multi-million dollar business, David’s love of art never wavered. In his free time, often late at night, he’d create stunning work in pen & ink; etchings; water colors, oils, and designed his first bronze sculptures.
The successful sale of PCI in 1980 gave Dave the freedom to do what he loved most: his art. His debut show was in 1981, in Cocoanut Grove, Florida. The show featured his western themed bronzes and oils, and was such a success; it spurred David to expand his vision, scope and life experience for his art. He took to the road – spending a year in San Francisco painting and sculpting, followed by a year in Miami, Florida where he added photography to his expansive list of talents.
The early reviews were sensational and his work was gaining attention from museums, private collectors and gallery’s around the world.
In 1985, David was awarded a grant by South West Texas University to illustrate a major anthropological textbook – featuring tools used by the Mayans. He was inspired by the brilliance of the Mayan culture, and after the text was completed he designed his acclaimed “Mayan Kings” bronze sculpture series – which he would eventually cast in the early 2000’s.
Throughout his life, David’s love of, and passion for rodeo never waned. A talented bull and bronc rider since his younger days, in the mid 80’s he would become a rodeo clown, perhaps the most dangerous and athletic position in the rodeo program. He was instantly a crowd favorite at major rodeo’s in Texas and throughout the southwest. His innovative comedy routines, combined with his fearless talent for protecting the cowboys, made DC one the most sought after clowns on the circuit.
His love of art and rodeo came together in perfect harmony in 2001, when his famous “Rodeo Clown” oil on canvass and a number of DC’s western themed works were honored with a special show in the Cowboy Hall of Fame. He is the first artist to have a “one-man-show” at the Hall. He was also honored with a show at the Museum of The Cowboy in Sheridan, Wyoming, and named one of the top western artists in the country by Western Horseman magazine. Among the highlights of his career, DC was asked to paint portraits of the inductees in the Pro Rodeo Cowboy hall of Fame.
Not long after, David’s good friend, award winning artist and gallery owner Frank Howell, encouraged him to move to Santa Fe and collaborate on some of his new works. The move spurred his creativity once again, and Dave started experimenting in a variety of new media and styles while he carved stone for Howell. World famous artist Amado Pena had just opened the El Tellar gallery in downtown Austin, Texas, and also called on David to cast his bronze work.
The culture and climate of the high desert suited David well. His work started gaining attention, and he was shown at Smith Gallery, one of Santa Fe’s oldest and most respected sellers.
While his contemporaries fixated on coyote designs, and other kitschy southwestern fads of the day, David designed and produced the first Kokopelli sculpture– a huge structural art piece commissioned by the Flickenger Center for the Performing Arts. This was the fore bearer of the “Ancient Ones” series, which were among his most popular works to date. The 1990’s were breakout years for DC in a variety of mediums. His “Wind Spirit” sculptures series was a huge success, as was his large scale, oil on canvass “Glyph” Series, still hanging at the Santa Fe Ski Area and in prominent private collections.
In 1996 David received national attention for his “Magic Horse” jewelry designs. These stone and bronze mixed media were hugely popular, sold around the world, and are still in demand today.
His current work reflects the growth and expansion of DC as an artist and sculptor. His “Out-of-the-Box” sculpture series are large scale stone reliefs showcasing cowboys on horseback, polo players, and wild broncos. His new paintings include the “Dimensional Walking” Series, “Mother Earth” Series, and his “Contemporary Abstracts” which are finding their way into boutique hotels, upscale office buildings and large residential collections. All are large format paintings, oil on Masonite box.
DC recently introduced the “Stone Arrow” sculpture series, and will be releasing his latest jewelry designs in the fall of 2013. DC and his wife Sally live in Santa Fe, NM and he maintains a large working studio on the south end of the city where some of the most legendary “exhibit opening” parties take place.
Singer/Songwriter John H Carrick