sculpture artist Chip Clawson posing in front his large artwork, taking up the space of an entire wall behind him
Apr 6, 2023
Daily Inter Lake

Sculptor Chip Clawson’s Work Featured in FVCC Art Gallery Exhibition

Whimsy and fantasy dance together at the Wanda Hollensteiner Art Gallery, which presents “Imagine This,” an exhibition of Helena sculptor Chip Clawson’s work.

The colorful, lightweight sculptures feature curved lines and charmingly whimsical shapes are meant to spark the imagination. Clawson said he aims to, “keep the mind curious as it grasps for what is familiar even while it is excited by what is peculiar.”

The public is invited to attend an opening reception and artist talk from 5 to 7 p.m. April 7 at the art gallery, which is located at Flathead Valley Community College in the Wachholz College Center. The talk begins at 6 p.m.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Clawson attended school there and served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 1971. His start as an artist came over years of mixing his fascination with ceramics with building locomotives in his industrial career and the notion of flight from his childhood.

“When I was growing up, my father often took me to the Pittsburgh airport to watch the planes take off and land. I was also mesmerized by the sense of movement in Alexander Calder’s giant suspended work that hung in the lobby,” Clawson said.

As he developed his current body of work, he kept with the idea of captivating, aerial sculptures and brought along indirect references to forms found in nature — his major source of inspiration. Parts of nature like beetles, shells and budding plants or larger phenomena like lava flows all have a place in Clawson’s mind as he creates.

The exhibit will be on display during gallery hours from noon to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays April 10 through May 30.

Clawson lives in Helena where he spent decades serving in different roles at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, including clay business manager, facilities manager, and most recently, owner’s representative for the education building, retiring in 2017. He now focuses on his exhibitions and creating works for public spaces.

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