Anyone who has visited Conroe will have noticed the breathtaking statues by resident sculptor Craig Campobella. Steeped in Texas history, symbolism, and humanity, these proud works preside over the city of Conroe and are also in many public and private art collections worldwide. With monuments across the USA, Conroe being the epicenter of his realm, we are honored to have such an accomplished sculptor in our midst.
Campobella’s sculptures stand above others. He is adept at recognizing the details and finite gestures that make them believable, almost alive. The subtle tilt of a head, the drop of a wrist, wisps of hair, and other micro gestures, are the components that bring these historical figures to life with a “split second” pose only a master of the arts can capture.
In the past, our sculptor has worked closely with Dean Bass, the CEO of The Spirit of Texas Bank, as well as the Texas Monument Flag Park, who have created a balance in the community by supporting the arts as well as keeping the area beautiful, this has been very important for Conroe.
I was privileged to ask Craig a few questions for CCL about his work and presence in the area.
What is your connection to Conroe, were you born here?
“I was born in downtown Houston, and moved to Conroe when I worked in radio, eventually, the sculpture took over, and it became my career.”
Can you tell me about your sculptures in Conroe and the surrounding areas?
“As well as “The Texian” at Texas Monument Flag Park and “Lady Liberty,” I have a series of busts in Founders Plaza as well as work further afield in The Woodlands, Montgomery and Waco.”
Do you use symbolism in your pieces?
“I love to add symbols to my work, it creates a different level of interest, and the stories the symbols represent are educational. It makes learning about the past fun, like solving a puzzle!”
How did your sculpture journey begin?
“My Mom was a painter, and one day I took her to the art store. She was taking a while, so I bought some air-drying clay while I was waiting. Later, I sculpted my first piece, a friend, who didn’t believe I’d made it bought it for $50. In the 1980s, that was a great price, so I made more, and the rest is history!”
What is your favorite sculpture, and why?
“When we went as a family to the Houston Zoo, I always liked to stop and look at the Sam Houston sculpture in Hermann Park by Enrico Filiberto Cerrachio. I marveled at the movement of the horse and the height of the sculpture with Elton Johns lyrics from “Your Song,” “If I was a sculptor…” resonating in my head. I wasn’t familiar with any other sculptures, but this one was an inspiration.”
What was your most recent project?
“I have recently completed a sculpture of Marty Stuart, country music icon, it’s called “The Pilgrim” and is currently in Jackson, MS.
Where do you work?
“I have relocated from my studio in downtown Conroe to my home studio, it allows for more spontaneous work and for me to be around my family more. I can work whenever the inspiration finds me. It’s a more immersive situation, but altogether it feels like a more natural approach to my work.”
Perhaps it might be interesting to tour a “Craig Campobella Sculpture Trail,” where we view these magnificent sculptures and learn more about history by counting symbolic numbers of buttons, stars, and other nuances, placed like puzzles to be solved to tell us more about our history!