As a teenager growing up on California’s rugged Monterey Peninsula, Peter Partch walked into the studio of renowned sculptor Alex Weyger one day and his life changed forever. He gazed in awe at the splendid stone sculptures that filled every corner of the workshop of this unique American artist, blacksmith, painter, tool maker, and philosopher. At that moment Peter fell in love with the art that was to become his own lifelong pursuit and fulfillment.
He began an apprenticeship under the master’s strict, unforgiving, but fond guidance that lasted for the next five years. The experience had a powerful influence on the direction and goals of Peter’s art, which reflect Weyger’s belief in the force of nature’s own designs in his work. It also instilled in Peter the work ethic that remains to this day as he continues to expand his chosen career as a sculptor and teacher himself.
Through the following years other mentors lent their wisdom and experience to Peter’s burgeoning knowledge and skill in carving stone. Gordon Newell, another local sculptor famed for his beautiful and powerful work, offered friendship and unvarnished critique and encouragement as he reviewed the young artist’s sculptures, further infusing in Peter his enduring love of stone. It was from Newell that he learned the power of simplicity in art, the outstanding quality evident in all of his pieces today, particularly those in the abstract.
Jesse Corsaut, a brilliant painter, sculptor and portrait artist whose exceptional talents are seen in bronze portraits exhibited throughout the Monterey Peninsula, provided knowledge and growth in another aspect of the art. Corsaut instilled in Peter the intense care and attention to detail necessary in mold-making and portraiture.
For the next 25 years famed artist-visionary Wah Ming Chang served as mentor to Peter’s continually expanding understanding and skill. Under Chang, whose works helped shape modern American culture in film and animation as well as sculpture, Peter learned the magical techniques of working with bronze casting and reproduction.
All of these influences and capabilities are embodied in the mature sculptor today as Peter continues to work in all phases of sculpture in his own studio in Pacific Grove, California. As he explains his creative processes in his own words:
“My primary interest is in abstract form. I am drawn to organic shapes and forms that I discover in nature. I usually begin by creating a maquette (model) in sculpture wax which I will later have cast in bronze. I then choose a stone that complements the character of the model’s design on a larger scale. Sometimes, however, the design is better suited to be completed in bronze. This is often determined only after the sculpture is under way, as in the technique known as ‘direct carving,’ which I also like to use from time to time. In direct carving the stone itself tends to suggest a design that is reflected in its original, natural shape. So I simply begin carving without a plan in mind and let the sculpture design itself, in a way.”
And now these techniques, along with the knowledge and hands-on skill Peter has attained in more than three decades of apprenticeship, study and creativity of his own in sculpture and its related crafts, are being passed on to new generations of potential artists, designers and sculptors.