“You can’t control how much talent you have, but you can control how much desire you have,” says Chris Navarro. A sculptor of cowboy rodeo figures, plains Indians, and wildlife as well as other images of the West, Chris Navarro had first-hand experience with his subject matter when he was a rodeo competitor at Casper College in Wyoming. He has remained a resident of Casper, but in 1999 opened a gallery in Taos, New Mexico.
Navarro was born into a military family and, during his childhood, they moved about every three years while his father climbed the army ladder. At age 16 in Spain, he began rodeo riding, and after high school returned to the United States and attended Casper College while pursuing his interest in the rodeo. After college, he married and worked for an oil field pipe-inspection company, but left that job in 1989 to pursue his sculpting full time, after being inspired by a visit to sculptor Harry Jackson’s house. “I was mesmerized by the sculptures,” Navarro recalls, “It lit a spark in me.”
Navarro particularly enjoys the ability of sculpture to capture the explosive power demonstrated in rodeo. The high tensile strength of bronze allows him to balance as much as a ton of metal in poses of high, strained drama. He says, “That’s the great thing about bronze: the feeling of movement. That’s what brings a sculpture to life, what brings out emotion in the viewer.”
One of his best-known works is the Lane Frost Memorial, a fifteen-foot sculpture commemorating the star bull rider in Frontier Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Many of Navarro’s works are monumental, including "Spirit of the Thunderbird," a fifteen-foot high sculpture at Casper College and "Twenty Percent Chance of Flurries," also fifteen feet in height, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Of his work, he writes in his book, Chasing the Wind, “The greatest gift a person has to offer the world is the work he creates and the effort he puts into it.”
Reference: Artist publications, Sculpture Forum magazine, communications with the artist