Oklahoma's Own: Perry Man Finds New Calling In Sculpture

Friday, March 18th 2011, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

PERRY, Oklahoma – An Oklahoma artist creates impressive sculptures from his studio just across from the courthouse in Perry, Oklahoma.

On the southeast corner of the courthouse square in Perry, there's a little studio where Jim Franklin says he gets to play in the clay.

"I found it, it found me and we're both happy," he said.

For more than 30 years, Franklin has worked with his hands, skillfully creating works of art. A chance conversation with another sculptor got him started.

"I was just totally enamored I'm going wow this is cool stuff," he said. "And so I got some supplies and I started playing with it, and my first piece came about all because of that."

Since sculpting his first piece, modeled after a neighbor playing the cello, Franklin has created hundreds of bronze sculptures.

"It became a passion, it is actually a passion, not just a vocation," he said.

Actually, it's a second career. Franklin worked in manufacturing, with experience in mechanical drafting, design, R&D, marketing, you name it. But in his sculpting, he found a calling.

"I've always advocated, is have something to do in your retirement, because you want to retire to something, not from something," he said.

His work can be found all over the world, and plenty of places in Oklahoma; more than 90 pieces on the OU campus, outside the library in Hugo, in Bricktown in Oklahoma, in Tulsa, all over and all created in downtown Perry, population just more than 4,000.

"Folks can come in and watch me work if they so desire," he said.

Right now, you'll find him working on a medallion of Abraham Lincoln in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

"My greatest thing to ever do would be to keel over dead right after I finish a piece, that would be kind of fun," he said. "I know the folks wouldn't enjoy that, the children probably wouldn't, but by George, if you've got to go that would be kind of the way to go."

Let's hope that doesn't happen for a very long time. There are still many big ideas yet to come from this small town studio.  Too much creativity yet to be expressed, too many people to make happy with his unique talent.

"It just makes me feel good. It's really cool," he said.

Jim Franklin teaches a number of workshops training other sculptors across Oklahoma.