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 Walter T. Matia  (1953 - )

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Lived/Active: Maryland/Ohio      Known for: wildlife sculpture-birds and sporting dogs, fountains

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Ad Code: 3
Walter T Matia
from Auction House Records.
For Spacious Skies
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Maryland-based wildlife sculptor Walter Matia, born in 1953, got an early start at paying attention to creatures that soar, crawl or hide in the grass.  He was raised near a wooded park in a Cleveland suburb and says his boyhood days were filled with "bird-watching, botanizing, log flipping and collecting." As an avid duck hunter, he has experienced "a lifetime of icy mornings, blistered feet, mosquitoes, torrid afternoons, chapped hands, wonderful dinners and the companionship of great and knowledgeable friends"all of which he eventually translated into his art.

Matia's early artistic leanings were encouraged by his parents and teachers. Art museums were a familiar part of life.  From high school until a year or two after college, he spent every summer working in the exhibits department of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where details of wildlife and their habitats became etched in his mind.

After earning degrees in biology and art design from Williams College in Massachusetts, Matia spent the next twelve years working for the Nature Conservancy. As vice-president in charge of land management, he traveled frequently, often visiting unusual ecosystems in the company of some of the country's best naturalists. It was an excellent opportunity to hone observation skills that later would come into constant use in his art.

In 1986, Matia left the Nature Conservancy to focus on sculpture. His first subjects were birds, creatures he finds inherently beautiful. "Some of the leggy birdstheir gestures are so elegant, they're sculptural." A few years later, he moved on to mammals, beginning a long and happy relationship with such subjects as bird dogs, foxes and deer.

Monumental bronze sculpture followed.  Among Matia's larger-than-life-size commissions is the fighting bull logo of the Merrill Lynch Corporation headquartered in New York City. The artist was also commissioned to create a fountain and a wall frieze for Blair House, the U.S. President's official guest house in Washington, D.C. He has sculpted pieces for the Wichita Botanical Gardens in Kansas; Benson Park Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado; and a nine-foot-tall eagle for American University in Washington, D.C.

Matia's work has been featured in the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition; Society of Animal Artists shows; National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming; and the Prix de West Invitational at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In 1996, Matia was elected a professional member of the National Sculpture Society.

Matia aims for a visually pleasing balance between surface details, gesture and form. "Sometimes I want the surface to be "talky," where the surface texture says a lot. Other times, the line and silhouette are very powerful, and I want the surface to shut up. It's so important to make sure the surface texture doesn't overwhelm the volumes and planes, which are what sculpture is all about."

After the studio work is done, Matia spends a considerable amount of time at the foundry, experimenting with patinas, and making sure the first casting in an edition is close enough to what he envisioned as he worked in wax. If it's not, a decision must be made about whether to go back and re-sculpt or throw the mold away and accept the mistake as another lesson for improving the next piece.

"Satisfaction in this business comes from trying harder and harder things, and the death of your soul is when you stop trying to do harder things."

Source:
Gussie Fauntleroy, Southwest Art, July 2001


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Walter Matia graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts with degrees in biology and art design. Matia next had a seven year apprenticeship with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He went on to the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia where he served as head of land management for eleven years.

Matia cast his first sculpture in 1980. Four years later he decided to work with sculpture full time. Matia's range includes small avian subjects, sporting animals and other mammals to garden fountains and major commissions.

Walter Matia regularly participates in the Society of Animal Artists shows, the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, South Carolina.


Wildlife Art, July/August 2002

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
Walter Matia was educated at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he earned degrees in Biology and Art Design.  Much of his training was attained during a long apprenticeship in the Exhibits Department of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

After leaving the Cleveland Museum, Walter worked for eleven years with the Nature Conservancy, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered species and unique habitats.  He served as the organization’s vice president in charge of land management.

He began casting bronze sculptures in 1980.  Initially, he concentrated on bird life, and over the years he has worked on sporting dogs and other mammals.  In 1987 he began a series of large fountain and garden pieces.  In 1989 the Blair House Restoration Committee placed one of his fountains in the formal garden of the United States President’s Guest House.  To complement the fountain, Walter produced a bronze wall frieze for the Blair House in 1992.

His works have been exhibited in one man shows at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.  Walter is a regular participant in the Society of Animal Artists shows, National Sculpture Society, Easton Waterfowl Festival, Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival and the Prix de West Invitational Exhibition. Walter is a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. He received the National Sculpture Society's 2003 Gold Medal Award for "Large Great Blue Heron Pair"; the 2005 Bronze Medal Award Pietro & Alfriedo Montana Memorial Prize for "A Fool for Love"; the 2006 Society of Animal Artists Leo J. Meiselman Award for "Molly is a Working Girl"; the 2006 Prix de West James Earl Fraser Award for "Promise of Spring" and the 2007 Masters of the American West, Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation Award for Sculpture. Walter Matia was named Master Wildlife Artist at the 2008 Birds In Art Exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Waussau, WI. In recognition of the Society of Animal Artists Annual Award of Excellence and outstanding artistic talent Walter recieved the honor of Master Signature Member.

Walter’s sculptures have been selected for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson, “Birds in Art” exhibitions and have toured with various shows to dozens of museums both in the States and abroad.  Outdoor commissions include: the Wichita Kansas Botanical Gardens; the Benson Park Sculpture Gardens in Loveland, Colorado; American University in Washington D.C., Deerwood Office Park in Jacksonville, Florida, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Cleveland Zoological Society and Heidleberg College, Tiffin, OH.

In 1988 Walter was commissioned to produce the Merrill Lynch Bull at a scale of 1.5 times life-size.  When completed they were installed at the corporate regional offices in Florida, New Jersey and Colorado. 

Fall 2001 Walter accepted a commission from the Houston Texans NFL team to sculpt six monument Spanish Fighting Bulls as team icons for the entrances of their new stadium in Houston, Texas.  Six 1 1/2 times life size bulls were completed and installed August 2003.  In 2004, Walter completed a twelve foot diameter sundial commissioned by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History which depicts the Evolution of Life.  The ESSFTA, English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association has commissioned a life size English Springer Spaniel which will be installed early 2007 at the Bird Dog Hall of Fame in Grand Junction,TN.

Source:
artist's website

Biography from Morris & Whiteside Galleries:
Degreed in Biology and Art Design from Williams College in Massachusetts, Walter Matia attained much training during a long apprenticeship in the Exhibits Department of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  After leaving the museum, Matia worked for eleven years with the Nature Conservancy, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered species and unique habitats.

Matia began casting his sculpture in 1980.  Initially concentrating on bird life, he has since worked on sporting dogs and other mammals. His works have been exhibited in one-man shows at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.  In 1996, he was elected as a Professional Member of the National Sculpture Society.

Matia's works have been selected for the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson, “Birds in Art” exhibitions.  Numerous outdoor commissions are attributed to Matia, most notably the Merrill Lynch bull, which is featured outside the company's regional offices.  A Walter Matia fountain resides in the formal garden of the United States Presiden'ts Guest House.

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