The Sculpting Life

Four Colorado artists you should know about

For these four Colorado artists—Richard Pankratz, Laurel Peterson Gregory, Reno Carollo, and Melissa J. Cooper—sculpting is a way of life. From nature and wildlife to a lifelong study of the human form, the work they create is a gift for all to enjoy. "It's a 24/7 job," Reno says. "So fun to do." 

Richard Pankratz, Monument

Artist Richard Pankratz says he likes “the way form interacts with space and derives meaning from the intention of the artist.”

“It has been a lifetime commitment to the unique that is gaining strength in me as society careens along and into this big box, mass-produced, sterile, and technologically precise millennium,” Richard says. “As the pressures and influences of modern existence continue to press upon and modify essential characteristics of fundamental humanity, art for me is becoming even more essentially relevant.”

Richard describes his sculpture Happy Dance (shown) as a “heartfelt thank you to all who have joined me in my happy dances. It is a celebration of all of life’s happy dances.” The work is on permanent display at the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland.

Richard Pankratz’s work can be found at Hunter Wolff Gallery, Colorado Springs; Exposures International Gallery of Fine Art, Sedona, AZ; and Ramey Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA.

Laurel Peterson Gregory, Sedalia

Born in Stamford CT, Laurel Peterson Gregory wandered from coast to coast before settling in Colorado in the 1970s.

Her work is highly stylized, grounded by her early training with classic masters in anatomy, form, and motion. The result is a unique application of curves and planes that invites the viewer deep into each piece’s story. Laurel believes “you have to know the rules to break the rules.” Her work has been collected around the world and can be found in numerous private, corporate, and public installations.

Rambunction (shown) “was a blast to sculpt once I figured out how to make the armature,” Laurel says. It’s just total play and friendly mayhem."

Locally, she has large work in the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland and Running Fox Park in Greenwood Village. Selections of her work can be seen at Smith Klein Gallery, Boulder; Renee Taylor Gallery, Sedona, AZ; and Cobalt Gallery, Tubac, AZ.

Reno Carollo, Aurora

Sculptor and goldsmith Reno Carollo is a Colorado native who creates sculptures using the Abstract Figurative Manifesto. By making a commitment to the human figure, Reno’s creativity combines new figures with statements of the human condition.

“I believe there are two parts to the creative process,” Reno says. “The first is the vision, concept, or idea you have inside of you, based on life experiences or an insight or quest you have participated in. The second is expressing that vision in a material or medium.”

His bronze piece, In Motion “is a figure captured moving in space,” Reno says. “What motion frozen might look like.”

His work can be found at Art Design Consultants, Cincinnati, OH; and Gallery V, Overland Park, KS. His leased public art can be seen at Sculpture Walk, Sioux Falls, SD; Partner Sculpture Walk, Vermillion, SD, and Art Around Town, Carbondale. Oh, and Reno’s Tenderness #2 resides at the Parker Arts Center. | 303-695-6008

Melissa J. Cooper, Littleton

Born and raised in Colorado, Melissa J. Cooper has a great appreciation of wildlife and art. The daughter of a china painter and a sculptor, Melissa has a natural ability to capture the spirit of life and emotion in each of her sculptures and refers to her style as realistic impressionism. Devoted to her faith and family, Melissa says, “I give the Lord Jesus thanks for the gifts and abilities He has given me.” 

Created in 2022, Plentiful (shown) depicts a Western Tanager perched on a circular vase covered in oak leaves and branches. 

Melissa’s work is displayed in numerous galleries and in private and public collections in the U.S. and around the world. Currently, her sculptures can be seen at Broadmoor Gallery, Colorado Springs; Breckenridge Gallery, Breckenridge; and Bronze Coast Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR. She will also be at the Governors Invitational show in Loveland, May 6–June 11.

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