Tim Cherry is turning 30-plus years of sculptural designs into beautiful art jewelry.
Tim Cherry’s bronzes of animals can’t help but elicit smiles. Fluid, sinuous, and often happily rotund, his creatures embody elegance, joy, and a wonderful bit of whimsy.
Now based in Branson, Missouri, the 55-year-old sculptor began his creative journey far, far north of the Ozarks. While guiding tours into the Yukon and Northwest Territories, the Canadian-born Cherry fortuitously had as a client sculptor Dan Ostermiller, who invited him to visit his studio in Loveland, Colorado. The trip would prove life-changing. Cherry relocated to the States and worked for two years in Ostermiller’s studio. “Danny really opened the door for me,” Cherry says. “He set me on my way.”
Cowboy Artist Fritz White would prove another important mentor. “Fritz taught me a lot about mass, line, and design,” Cherry says. “He kept telling me to ‘fill in the holes’ and to be sure I had exhausted all possibilities with a design — to make it all it could be. He’s gone now, but he was an amazing man. Fritz is in the studio with me every day, in every piece I do.”
We talked with Cherry from his home studio about his sculpting and his TLC jewelry line.
Cowboys & Indians: Much of your work has a playful quality. What is your state of mind when you work?
Tim Cherry: Animals make me smile, and I try to look at the lighter side of life and bring that into my work. We are bombarded with the harder side of life; I just hope to bring some sunshine, some joy, into people’s lives through my work.
C&I: What inspires you?
Cherry: Inspiration comes from so many directions for me — always from nature! There are a million things going on around us every day, be it outside observing nature or just around our pets watching them. Strong, interesting designs are most important to me. I am especially inspired by art nouveau designs; this time period has been a big influence on my sculpture and jewelry.
C&I: You’ve had a successful sculpting career for more than 30 years. How did you get into jewelry?
Cherry: My wife, Linda, and I have wanted to take my sculptural designs into jewelry for a long time. We started working with our current jewelry producer and he opened the door and showed us the way. Linda is one of the most creative people I know, and the jewelry design is a true collaboration between the two of us. Working together has been insightful and big fun.
C&I: What differences do you encounter working in the two different mediums? Do you like one medium more than another?
Cherry: The two mediums are the same to produce in terms of design and effort. We get to take 30-plus years of my sculptural designs and create beautiful art jewelry. I love color, and to be able to incorporate all these beautiful stones with sculpture to create a pendant is exciting. To do that with Linda is extra special.
C&I: Can you tell us any interesting backstories on some of your pieces?
Cherry: Sometimes I work in a series. I don’t necessarily mean to — one design idea just leads to another. My current “sunfish” series started that way. I promised Linda 18 years ago to create door pulls for the stained-glass doors she designed for our living room. Those sunfish door pulls led to Crawfish Conundrum, Unity, Sunfish Sunset, and two new sunfish pendants, Circle of Fish and Stringer of Fish.
C&I: You’ve got a busy show season coming up, not to mention Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. What are you working on?
Cherry: I am preparing for the Briscoe Museum’s Night of Artists in San Antonio [through May 9], National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Prix de West in Oklahoma City [June 6 – August 8], Eiteljorg Museum’s Quest for the West in Indianapolis [September 10 – 11], and National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Western Visions in Jackson, Wyoming [September 10 – 16]. I have finished eight new pieces so far this year. And I’m working on a group of monumental and garden-sized pieces for a garden in Arkansas. Linda and I also have three new pendants in the works.
Tim Cherry is represented by McLarry Fine Art in Santa Fe; Sorrel Sky Gallery in Durango, Colorado; and Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, Oregon.
Photography: (All images) Mel Schockner/courtesy Tim Cherry
From our May/June 2021 issue