About ten minutes south of Cerrillos, NM on the Turquoise Trail, I approached a colorful amalgamation of graphic art that appeared to be a cross between a theatrical stage prop and graffiti. I pulled to the side of the road to get a better look and to take a picture then spotted a man in a light colored wide brim hat kneeling near an old pickup truck and hammering away at a gate beside a yellow and blue Studio 3115 sign. Out of curiosity, I parked under a nearby shady cottonwood, walked over, introduced myself and inquired about the studio.
The gate repairman stood up, took off his work gloves, wiped his hands on his paint stained jeans and introduced himself as Ken Wolverton, artist and the owner of Studio 3115. Ken seemed glad to take a break from the task of repairing the gate and offered to show me around his studio.
Ken Wolverton's Studio 3115
We began in his sculpture garden that includes several finished works of art crafted with indigenous and found-objects. He explained that he’s been creating sculptures for over 40 years from wood, cement, ceramic tiles, and anything else he can find. Flying along the fence, which fronts his sculpture garden and workshop, is his rendition of Santa Claus and his eight not so tiny reindeer. A string of red Christmas lights served as Rudolph’s red noise.
Ken told me that the rack of loose sticks connected by what I think were nails was a bucking horse frozen in time just before tumbling forwards over his head. Perhaps the reason I didn’t immediately recognize the artistic creation was that Ken had not yet attached the two back legs. He explained that the bucking horse was constructed of bark stripped cottonwood branches that he’d collected down by the river on his small piece of land.
Inside his small shop, Ken showed me a cast of a colorfully painted, well endowed set of buttocks and another cast of a set of breasts. He told me he wanted to start a gallery called Tits and Asses with casts of breasts and buttocks of local senior citizens; however, the venture never got off the ground because only one person agreed to be type casted – pardon the pun.
Hanging on a wall of the same bark-free cottonwood branches were large canvas paintings of the bursting colors of the New Mexico desert and sky. Scattered throughout the studio were other objets d’art painted in the same vivid hues as the roadside graphic art. Although I didn’t buy anything, the slogan on the wooden tablet leaning against a wall of the same aging lumber as the front gate informed me that Ken was willing to negotiate. In fact, he told me, he’d sell the entire collection if he got a good offer.
I told him I was headed into Madrid and he suggested I stop at the Mine Shaft Tavern for lunch then go on over to Mostly Madrid, his friend’s studio, and tell her that Ken sent me.
Remembering that he still had a gate to fix, I thanked him for his time and continued south on the Turquoise Trail toward Madrid.
Note – Ken is an accomplished international artist with 40 years experience as a public artist. According to his website, his artwork is displayed in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and Guatemala. He was born in Pueblo, CO and lived in Europe from 1973 to 1986.