The Price of imagination

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— On the way to grab a book at the Bud Werner Library, roam in the Botanic Gardens, buy a novel or coffee at Off the Beaten Path, check-in at the Steamboat Sheraton or stroll through the hotel to visit the Wild Horse Gallery, art lovers can get a glimpse of the imagination of Gary Price.

For instance, the "Circle of Peace" outside the Sheraton presents a circle of children holding hands imitating friendship, the goodness of humanity and a loss of prejudice.

For a man that grasps his inspiration from his wife of 20 years, Lanea, Price's theme of his thousands of bronze children sculptures comes from his wild imagination, his love for history and his passion for the importance of children in the world.

The theme of children comes from being a parent. "I have tons of opportunities to use them as models," Price said. With five boys to raise between the ages of 8 and 17, Price said they're into everything.

Price's clay figures cast in bronze can be seen in metropolitan cities, island paradises and far away countries where no language is necessary to experience the effect of his work.

The Wild Horse Gallery hosts this one-man show called "Journeys of the Imagination," capturing the joy and innocence of childhood. The gallery has shown Price's works since December 1998.

With about 60 artists from around the country, Wild Horse Gallery's two showrooms in the Sheraton Hotel give art lovers a piece of everything from pastel paintings to life size sculptures to glass blown vases. Co-owner with her husband Rich Galusha, Shirley Stocks said in the beginning she met artists that she wanted to represent, but now artists are coming to her.

"Art is such a personal thing." To be successful, "you have to have someone come in and fall in love with a piece," Stocks said.

Three years ago, the room full of inspiration and light was merely a sidewalk that Stocks and Galusha turned into two showrooms and a breezeway holding some of Price's sculptures.

"(Price) is wonderful. There's no other word but wonderful," Stocks said.

With many of his pieces ranging in size (tiny to medium size to life size to monuments), and in price ($500 to $250,000), Price tries to reach a widespread audience, Stocks said.

His versatility as a sculptor can be seen in his sculptures of Native Americans and animals, and also his popular piece, "Messenger," showing an angel with outstretched hands, bringing light, comfort or "whatever it is that you personally need to carry with you on this earthly journey," Price said.

For two years, Price and his 30 workers have facilitated an in-house foundry to produce the thousands of sculptures dispersed to 25 galleries around the country and overseas.

"I came into this life as an artist," Price said of his life that has consisted of a love for art. "It became my identity. In school, it was Gary Price the artist."

Price's mother died when he was 6 years old, and he discovered one week ago that she was influential in his art lifestyle. His mother's best friend still is alive, giving Price an insight to the relationship between he and his mother.

His famous child sculptures are accompanied by his fascination with hands and everything they symbolize.

"I'm a very tactile person. Relationships begin with a handshake or touch," Price said. "If you've ever met someone and they didn't stick out their hand to shake it, it's like putting up a wall or barrier. Hands portray the beginning point of relationships."

His sculpture, "Synergy," represents life as a teamwork effort. People working together to create a better product than those working alone, he said.

"My work is not a religious endeavor, it's an experience of who I am ... coming from deep within my soul," Price said.

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