Clemmer casts strong influence as artist and professor
Edwin Clemmer, retired professor of art, said he was worried he wouldn't have enough pieces to fill the Cloyde Snook Gallery in the Adams State College Art Building. It was an unfounded concern. There wasn't space to spare, as Clemmer's former students and colleagues, admirers, family, and friend mingled amidst his figures.
Clemmer's favorite subject has been the human figure. In fact during his lecture before the art reception he said, "I almost wish I could work on something else."
The rest of us are glad he continues. His figures are graceful and seem to flow with a life-energy all their own.
President Dr. David Svaldi presented Clemmer with Emeritus Artist of Adams State College at the Sept. 22 reception.
"I believe it is fitting for Adams State College to demonstrate our appreciation for Clemmer's dedication and commitment to his classes," Svaldi said.
His retrospective show continues in the Cloyde Snook Gallery through October 24. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Clemmer admits to working intuitively and perhaps that technique breathes the life into his sculptures they all seem to emit. Each piece is uniquely individual and reflects the commitment Clemmer has always applied to his art.
"It is great to see his work," said Cloyde Snook, emeritus professor of art who chaired the art department for many years while Clemmer was a professor. "I have always thought Clemmer approaches his sculpture in a painterly fashion."
Snook is referring to the rich texture of Clemmer's sculptures. Whether the piece is carved from a seven foot oak or cast in bronze he works the surface to create texture that adds another dimension to his art.
Clemmer approached his teaching with the same passion he applied to his artwork, evident by the crowd of former students who gathered round him asking for his autograph on a limited edition brochure and posing for photographs with him.
Huberto Maestas '84, now an internationally recognized artist living in San Luis, said he met Clemmer when he was 14 years-old.
"Ed took me under his arm," Maestas said. "I wanted to learn all about sculpture. I still use the foundation of skills he taught me."
"My students are like my children," Clemmer said. "You spend a lot of time working and interacting with them and become very close."
Clemmer taught many art classes during his twenty-two years at Adams State College, including drawing and sculpture. He often emphasized that negative space in art should carry as much weight as the positive. Clemmer encouraged his students to experiment and try different methods in all his classes.
Clemmer's wife, Mary Ann, son, David '87, and daughter-in-law, Wendy, traveled with him to Alamosa for the art opening reception.
"It is very fitting that Adams State College recognized my father," David said. "He is a very special person."
Steve Quiller, an internationally known painter who works primarily in watermedia, monotypes, and intaglio printmaking and is author of many books on color theory, and is a former Adams State art instructor. He taught with Clemmer for a number of years.
"One year over spring break we visited art museums on the east coast," Quiller said. "He enlightened me on sculptures. Ed has a world of information about art in general and sculptures in particular."
Bonnie Trujillo '84 owns a cold foundry in Golden.
"I am really glad I made the trip down here," Trujillo said. "It brought back a flood of memories and also rekindled my artistic inspiration."
One Clemmer sculpture, Mountain Family, is installed on the Adams State campus, while another life-sized piece, David, is in front Alamosa's Southern Peaks Library.
"I was inspired by the mountains surrounding the valley for the family sculpture," Clemmer said. "It is a portrait of my family. My son was my model for the piece in front of the library. I worked on it intuitively and one day David, (his son) came into my studio and I took the glasses of his face and they fit perfectly onto the sculpture. I was also inspired by Donatello's David and Michelangelo's David sculptures."
This was Clemmer's first visit to campus since his retirement from Adams State College in the spring of 1996.
"It is not Adams State, it is home," Clemmer said. "Adams State is very special. The faculty interacts with students one-on-one. It sets Adams State apart from other institutions."
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By Linda Relyea