I hadn’t planned on creating an owl but during the first full moon of 2016, a Great Horned Owl visited me. The majestic creature sat like a sentinel on top of my beloved tree outside our cabin. I stood at our bedroom window, captivated. When Tala was a little puppy, Cliff used to call me on nights when I worked at the studio past dark to warn me if an owl was outside. The owl could easily snatch our little round glow-in-the-dark furball pup if I didn’t protect her on the walk home. The point is, owls are not rare up here but that owl, that night, was so vivid and powerful that I felt compelled to sculpt a palm-size owl for 2016.
Cliff was exceptionally excited about the sculpture, partly because it was an owl and partly because I was finally sculpting after the long PTSD caused hiatus from studio life. But then Cliff died unexpectedly and I could not finish the sculpture. During 2016, I lost Cliff, my mother, my aunt and my cat. I got married, totaled my truck and left for Bhutan to carve for the king. I did not complete the yearly palm-size bronze. Again and again I picked up the little lump of “owlish” clay but simply could not create. On a cold winter night in 2017 I gave a stranded motorist a ride to his home up Paradise Valley, a giant Great Horned Owl flew past my truck window and looked directly at me. Those of you who know Cliff know he was legendary for the assistance he gave friends, family and strangers alike. I knew it was time to finish the little owlet. Emotional but healing, the little sculpture began to find itself while a fire crackled in my studio.
I felt so much of Cliff while working on his owl that of course “Cliffness” emanates from the owlet. He was one-of-a-kind, gentle, strong and damn loyal.