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  • Rod Kagan

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Rod Kagan American Artist: b.1940-2010. When Rod Kagan was a kid growing up in Jersey City he stripped and lowered a 1932 Ford into a hot rod while working at the family meat-cutting business. "I've been working with my hands all my life," he says while raising his latest bronze sculpture on a lift at his studio north of Ketchum. The "totem chair" he is finishing looks both tribal and industrial; ancient, yet somehow futuristic. Kagan's sculptures represent a technical mastery and refinement that have become emblematic of his artistic success in Idaho. Over the last four decades, his work has evolved into some of the region's most recognizable abstract forms and found its way into several collections of national significance. Several of his pieces are also placed at the Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. In 1984, he won a fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Not bad for a young man who, after working 14 years as a butcher back East, accidentally cut off the end of a forefinger. "It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me," he says. "It made me become an artist." In Kagan's studio, a photographic self-portrait by the Italian sculptor Brancusi looks down on drill presses, cutting torches and scraps of copper and bronze from more than 1,000 sculptures Kagan has produced since moving to the Sun Valley area in the early 1970s. Although Kagan regards the sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro as a more important influence, the photo of Brancusi is piercing and intense, exuding the singular focus that has carried Kagan from a youthful hot-rod builder to a prominent and successful artist. Not that it shows in his self-effacing manner. "It's all just stuff," he says. "Other people read more into certain things and make them more valuable." In the arts world, artists lead, the rest of us follow. Listings wanted.

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