One of the best friends I have made in the art business is George Walbye, a sculptor from Loveland, Colorado.
I was on a sales trip in 1973, calling on wholesale customers in Northern Colorado when the Dodge van I was driving started making weird sounds. I pulled into a Ford dealership in Loveland to see if they would look at it. The service manager, a man named Art, saw the Navajo rugs I had in the back of the van and told me I should meet one of the owners, George Walbye.
He introduced us, and I admired the bronze sculptures he had in his office. When he told me that he was the artist, I complimented him on the work. He asked me if I would be willing to trade a rug for one of the bronzes. It was the start of a beautiful friendship!
George was born and raised in Wyoming and was a real cowboy! He has a deep respect for the Native American culture. Most of his sculptures are of Native people. He was also an avid outdoorsman, an athlete, and a self-taught artist. He ended up in Loveland because one of the top bronze foundries in the United States was located there. He had the opportunity to meet and work with many great sculptors, including George Lundeen. He was a co-founder of Art inthe Park; the annual Loveland Sculpture show held every August. This is the 38th year of the show, so I would say it was a success!
We had several gallery shows in Durango for George, and it was always fun to watch him trade with other artists in the gallery. He ended up with jewelry from Jimmie King Jr. and Ben Nighthorse, paintings by Mark Silversmith and Virginia Stroud. He is a trader!
We have an excellent selection of George’s small bronzes. One thing he does that not many bronze artists do is make bronze vases. He started doing them back in the 1990s. I remember trading him for turquoise to put on them!
George and I have been friends for 49 years. Life would not have been the same if we’d missed each other. You might enjoy his biographical website. He is a remarkable man!