This is the second of two January blog posts which celebrate the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s centennial through features on Cody-area artists of the past and present. Here, we highlight local sculptor Jeff Rudolph.
Jeff Rudolph was born in 1956 in Cody, Wyoming. Growing up, Rudolph showed artistic talent, an aptitude and interest his father recognized and encouraged. Rudolph’s love for sculpture began in his father’s carpentry shop where, as a young child, he carved pieces of wood his father brought home. His first sculpture was modeled after an Easter Island head.
Rudolph was pursuing a BA from Brigham Young University when he took a sculpture class that tapped his early artistic interests and changed his life forever. Following this revelation, Rudolph dropped all but his sculpture classes and turned to art as his main course of study. His time outside of class working in a bronze foundry and a sculpture studio were also invaluable hands-on experiences for the budding artist. Following college, Rudolph worked for artists Harry Jackson, Bill Davis, and Peter Fillerup. His experience in the university taught him to carve in a non-subjective abstract style. However, it was an encounter with a patron during an art show that encouraged Rudolph to combine abstract and subjective styles to great advantage.
Today, Rudolph enjoys working with stone, ceramic, wood, cast paper, and terra-cotta. His favorite medium is stone as its unpredictability makes the carving process all the more exciting for Rudolph. He often looks to the Italian Renaissance and western American artists for inspiration. His various subjects include cowboys, American Indians, wildlife, and European and holiday themes.
Rudolph lives and works in Cody. Located on the north side of town, his studio is filled with sculptures; some are completed projects, others are works-in-progress. Nestled among these are some of his most prized works including the carved Easter Island head and a sculptural representation of his daughter. Rudolph’s studio comprises of several rooms, each with a purpose. One room acts as a storage and carving room that is full of stones and rocks Rudolph has quarried over the years. Another room functions as a workshop, and contains saws, wood carving tools, and tools of his own invention. Many sculptors, including Rudolph, often invent their own tools to assist in the sculpting process. Upstairs, Rudolph created a small library to which he often turns for information and inspiration.
Jeff Rudolph’s works can be found in several collections including the Center’s! Beyond the museum’s walls, visitors to Cody might notice public sculptures around town. Rudolph sculpted the grizzly bears and bison seen throughout town outside local businesses, as well as the Buffalo Bill sculpture, Spirit of Cody, which stands in the city park.
Visit our online collection, amble around town, and stop by the Center to see more of Jeff Rudolph’s works!
Stay tuned for next month’s centennial blog featuring Mel and Peter Fillerup!