'Tough times don't last, tough people do' Casper sculptor Chris Navarro brings inspiration to the west

(Casper, Wyo.) - Casper sculptor, Chris Navarro, has been 'Spinning and Winning' for thirty years in Wyoming and continues to create sculptures of inspiration. ​"I remember a time when I was so broke, I couldn't even pay attention, " joked Navarro at the Nicolaysen Art Museum (NIC) in Casper, thinking about why he stepped out of riding bulls. ​*h/t Chris Navarro/Pitchengine Communities * Navarro was showing off his newest exhibit, "Embrace the Struggle" which features over sixty-five of his bronze sculptures and drawings. The exhibit is a traveling exhibit which begins in the Oil City May 27th and will run through August 14th at the NIC. Then Navarro will take his works to Worland and then to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. He will complete his tour at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA. ​ Navarro began working with his hands at an early age, as he spent a few years in the oil industry in Casper, studied Animal Science at Casper College and rode bucking bulls and broncs for the Thunderbird Rodeo team. ​ "I never really had an artist background, and I learned at an early age, you really learn to appreciate things more when you have to work at them. It's the struggle that you remember and the fight," said Navarro. He would eventually find inspiration from sculptor, Harry Jackson, which would lead him to visit Goedicke's Arts & Crafts in Casper. Here he gained his first sculpting supplies and launched his career as a sculptor. Navarro commented that his favorite and most famous piece, in his eyes, is the memorial for bull rider, Lane Frost. ​ "Champion" Lane Frost lost his life in 1986 at Cheyenne Frontier Days and Navarro felt it fitting to create a monument for him. This was his first big piece and the piece that he struggled with the most. Navarro went on to explain how he brought the idea to the Frontier Days committee and they rejected his proposal of the Lane Frost memorial. He was left to fund the project himself and worked with different foundations to generate the funds using the smaller 18 inch maquettes as leverage. ​*h/t Chris Navarro/Pitchengine Communities * He said in his new book, "Embrace the Struggle-The Art of Chris Navarro" *Every time I started feeling good about the project, something would come along and knock me on my ass.* He went on to explain how the loss of his father in 1992 put a damper on the project and when he was nearly finished with the clay, it burned up in a fire at the Caleco Foundry in Cody in 1993. "I was forced to scrape the art and start over. My tools and many personal items of Frost had been lost in the fire. I started sculpting again and completed the project just a week before the opening ceremony! I was driven to get it done, and I got it done," commented Navarro with a smile. ​ "I want to inspire people, with my art and my story. Embracing the struggles we face defines who we are." ​ Navarro has gone on to create 300 plus bronze sculptures that are littered across Wyoming and the western states. From the big T-Rex at the Tate Geological Museum to the Wyoming Cowboy at War Memorial Stadium, Navarro continues to create and overcome struggles. *​h/t Chris Navarro/Pitchengine Communities * "I always try to tell a story with my artwork. From a cowboy named, 'Lucky' with broken bones, to a cowboy eating beans in a downpour, I like to add a few twists. The better the story, the better the art." ​ With ten monuments around Casper, Navarro is working to create another piece for a local church. Navarro concluded, "I want people to remember that tough times are just temporary and you have to go through some tough times to get to the good times. Especially with where Wyoming is today with the downturn in economy, the only thing you can do is embrace the struggle." ​ The exhibit will be on display until August and Navarro will be lecturing about the exhibit on June 4th at the NIC. To learn more about Navarro's works and his new book, please contact him at the Nicolyasen Art Museum at 307-235-5247. #oilcity #news