Steve Tyree

Amity, OR

Steve Tyree

Steve Tyree - Down from the High Country (bronze, steel)

The subject of Tyree's sculpture is one that will resonate with Kootenay residents. Cougars are omnipresent in the mountains around us but seen by very few.

The majority will likely have to be content with Tyree's superb rendition. That is far more appealing than an encounter with a live one in the wild, at any rate.

Using sheets and rods of bronze metal, Tyree cuts, bends and hammers the pliable metal to capture wildlife studies in his distinctive style. Here he portrays his magnificent cougar springing from above to land perfectly balanced on its forepaws.

There is motion and grace in his cat. The turned head, ever alert, counters the muscular front haunches and airborne powerful back end of this most effective predator. The tail is raised high, the back legs poised in midair about to land on the plinth of rock Tyree has fashioned.

He has captured the grace and power of his subject in a fascinating pose that showcases its power, agility and effortless movement through difficult, unforgiving terrain. The title of the eight-foot tall sculpture completely suits the piece, implying a hint of menace prowling with fluid movement and coiled action. Prey species need to be wary.

Born in California, Tyree grew up in the South Pacific - Guam and Hawaii - spending nine years there; his father was a freelance artist.

"My siblings and I learned many different art forms as Dad developed his client base and business," he explains. "Drawing, painting, carving, taxidermy, model building, we learned them all as a matter of course. They laid the foundation for my current passion, with a few diversions along the way of course."

His love for wildlife took him to Alaska and Florida where he began filming the diverse range of bird species found in the opposite corners of the United States.

"I would replicate the birds captured on film in a variety of mediums, drawing on what I learned as a youth. Even now, after moving to Oregon and focusing more on metal sculpture, they continue to be one of my favourite subjects to try to portray artistically."

Indeed, a collection of his wildlife sculptures that he has put together for the upcoming Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County - two weekends in October this year - are predominantly avian studies. Many are portrayed, not unlike his piece here, from an angled perspective. They cling precariously to finely crafted foliage, perched in similarly glorious bronze.

He and his wife Toni, who works primarily in watercolours, live and share a studio outside of Amity, north of the state capitol of Salem. The proximity of Willamette Mission State Park provides them with a bounty of subject studies for their respective mediums.

Although cougars are relatively rare in northwestern Oregon, they have been successfully re-introduced to the state after nearly being exterminated in the 1960's. Tyree's dynamic bronze work celebrates the re-birth of the cougar in his home state with style and aplomb.

Artist's Sculptures