He has no mentors. There is nowhere to go to learn his art. No one teaches his technique. Sculptor Bill Mack works in such a rare art form that coming up with a name to describe it has been only slightly less arduous than creating the art itself.
Mack was born in Minneapolis, in a family that had never had anyone directly involved in art. He was creating and selling oil portraits in high school. At 17 years old, while employed as a draftsman for a company making bronze dedication tablets, a crucial moment occurred which would change his life forever. Portraits are the most difficult image to create in relief.
When a poor quality relief portrait for a memorial tablet created by another artist was submitted to the company for approval, Mack thought he could do a better job. He gave it a try and it was instantly accepted. He immediately quit his job and began a career as a commissioned relief sculptor.
At the University of Minnesota, he majored in Journalism with a minor in art history while continuing to do commissioned work as a free-lance artist. Upon graduation, he continued his own career, working as a relief sculptor. So rare are “accomplished” relief sculptors that Mack met with immediate success. His commissioned work ranged from very small, low relief ingots and medallions, to often monumental sculptures. Besides creating hundreds of works in traditional cast bronze, he also gained experience with more modern substances, including resins, urethanes, epoxies, silicones, and acrylics. Working in different materials and trying new methods, Mack has gained increasing confidence in his abilities. When he made the transition to the galleries, he possessed a great deal of technical knowledge to compliment his unique talents.
Mack make’s Minneapolis his primary home. Living in the Minneapolis metropolitan area he says, is pleasant, not only personally, but also professionally. “My time in the studio is precious. Being centrally located between the coasts, Europe and Japan, cuts down on travel time. I am close to my 25,000 square foot foundry and framing studio, also located in Minneapolis. Besides, as you might guess, there are fewer distractions here in the winter months, and I seem to accomplish the largest body of my work during this time.”
Through his extensive artistic and business contacts around the world, Mack has also become an avid collector. His collection of paintings and drawings includes original works by such a diverse group of artists as Miro, Chagall, Picasso, Paul Jenkins, Jim Dine, and his friend and fellow Minnesotan, LeRoy Neiman. However, his collection, include several presidential letters written by Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, John Kennedy, and others. To decorate his tiered video theater, he collects and displays a treasure of costumes such as the one worn by Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, Clark Gable’s coat from Gone with the Wind, and Lon Chaney’s suit from Phantom of the Opera.
The image of Bill Mack
Youthful and enthusiastic, ambitious and stylish, the mustachioed Mack has a distinctive flair about him. For example, there is a fresh red rose bud he wears on his lapel every day. Though he will not reveal the personal reason why he began the practice some years ago, the red rose has become a symbolic trademark. Presenting them at gallery openings, he has become the largest non-commercial buyer of roses in the world, requiring tens of thousands of them each year.
Without a doubt, Bill Mack’s creations are strikingly unique in the world of art. In or out of his studio, Mack is an unusual man and artist, influencing today’s world of contemporary art.