Idaho Artist RVs Around The Country, Making Art

Sep 23, 2016

An Idaho artist, who spends much of the year in an RV showing his work, is vying for a $200,000 dollar award in a competition in Michigan.

Ken Newman, his wife Debbie and their dog leave the town of Cambridge every year to travel the U.S. showing off Ken’s art. While on the road, they attend art shows and venues, and Ken spends time creating new works in bronze and wood.

Newman is known for his wildlife work. Here is "Confluence of Blue."
Credit Ken Newman

For the last 17 years, the Newman’s have been on the road.

“It was just a desire to move my work beyond a regional audience. Just push the work out … and try to get some recognition,” he says.

Newman says he loves creating art on the road, and it’s not as hard as you might think.

“Whether it’s working with wood or the clay that I work now for bronze, you really don’t need a lot of tools and a lot of space,” Newman says, “It’s your commitment to it. We’ve stopped in Arkansas and spent time on the Buffalo River and within an hour, I can actually have a camp set up and be working on a project.”

Newman says it's not always easy, but it's worth it.

"The Rat Race," by Ken Newman.
Credit Ken Newman

“It’s competitive, it’s tough, it’s financially not lucrative. It is very rewarding. To create something from within yourself and have people connect to it and want to put it into their home or in a public location, it’s very rewarding.” But Newman says, “There’s a lot of sleepless nights.”

He says the best part of doing art on the road is the people.

“The people are incredible that you meet on the road … and seeing how great the United States of America really is … I’d be hard pressed to tell you a bad experience,” he says.

Newman’s latest piece is called “The Last Whistle.” It's a bronze sculpture of a blue-collar worker coming off his shift and heading wearily home.

Newman says it reflects on the loss of America's blue-collar worker.

“And it was capturing that sense that he’s giving everything to the job and he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he’s not real positive what tomorrow will bring.”

This year, Newman is competing at the ArtPrize Eight competition in Michigan, along with more than 1,400 artists from 44 countries.

For the next two weeks, “The Last Whistle,” will sit in downtown Grand Rapids, while judges and 400,000 art lovers check out the bronze sculpture. Judges in the competition will award two $200,000 grand prizes.

Here's a look at Newman's process as he creates a bronze sculpture:

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio