Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Artist Plays with Big Cats for Metalwork

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Artist Plays with Big Cats for Metalwork

Article excerpt

As local artist Ptr Sponseller crouched down to observe the lions in the Topeka Zoo, he was surprised to note they enjoyed a can of cat food just as much as his domesticated feline at home.

A simple discovery, but one of many he made while studying the lions for his future project. In April, Sponseller will be one of eight local artists featuring their collaborative artwork for the annual Roar and Pour event with the Zoo.

Sponseller is unique to the fundraising event in that he is a metalworks artist, and his piece will be the first of its kind to be auctioned off April 27.

Before his play date with the lions, Sponseller said, he sat down with zoo staff to decide what kind of metal pieces the animals could interact with. They couldn’t be dangerous to the animals, and couldn’t be something the cats could manipulate to how to escape from their metal enclosure.

One staff member suggested a beer keg barrel, which Sponseller agreed would make a perfect object to incorporate into his art.

“Zuri, she did most of the playing with the barrel, and she was very much like a house cat,” Sponseller said. “She was a big house cat playing, and it was really neat to interact with her, because I noticed when I walked back and forth between the training window she watched me like my own cat does at home.”

Sponseller said he paid close attention to the lions’ motions, demeanor and even the patterns in their fur, which he hopes to use in the piece.

“A lot of research for all the animals I create I do online, I don’t have live creatures in front of me,” he said. “So for me, working with live models in front of me was really cool.”

Sponseller, owner of Clover Gear, 1001 N.W. Central Ave., has created pieces of all types, usually from found and reclaimed materials. He has made such animals as squids, vultures, horses and iguanas, as well as dabbling in mythological creatures, recently creating a manticore and wyvern. …

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