March 24th, 2021 Newsletter

March 24th, 2021 Newsletter

Artisanti E-Newsletter - Spring Has a Nice RING to It!

The E-Newsletter of Cosanti Originals

Artful, One-of-a-Kind

Handmade Gifts, Decor,

and So Much More


March 24, 2021 Volume 6







Pictured left

Individually handcrafted sterling silver cuff bracelets

Photo credit: Logan Glennie




All in a Clay's Work


Though bronze bells seem to be what people think of most when they think of Cosanti windbells, our artistic tradition of handmade ceramic windbells, pots, and planters dates back to the early 1950s.


Decorative glazed tiles, now offered in coordinating sets of four, put a fresh spin on it. And 4,500 silt-cast and molded ceramic windbells are still masterfully made, one by one, by Cosanti Originals artisans each year.



Photo credits (color): Jessica Jameson, (black and white) courtesy the Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti

 The Look of the SouthwestShop Our Ceramic Windbell Series
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Spring Ahead! Shop our Collection of Bronze Windbells Here
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What's the Story With...

"What's the Story With ____?" is an Occasional Series

Illuminating Some of Our Interesting, Lesser-Known Stories

...That Unique Twisted Metal Sculpture at Cosanti?


Touring Cosanti near the Student Apse, you might have noticed a contorted and weathered metal form nestled among the prickly pear cacti. Known as Yavapai Landscape, this interesting sculpture is the work of Michael McCleve (1946-1993), a former Cosanti Originals bronze artisan, who had emerged onto the arts scene in Arizona in the 1970s and quickly garnered a reputation for himself. Scottsdale art gallery owner Joanne Rapp was a friend of the late artist, and fondly recalls, “I first remember Michael as a slim, twenty-year-old, bright-eyed, full of hope and passionately committed to art, who, over the years became a true master of the tough medium of forged metal, turning it into lyric poetry...sculpture.”


Above: Yavapai Landscape, photographed at Cosanti by Logan Glennie

 “I am basically a dreamer, a fantasizer, a surrealist...a maker of mysterious, sometimes menacing personages and sentinels with which I hide from reality.”


- Michael McCleve

Above photos, courtesy the Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti; below, courtesy Russel Adams

In 1967, after briefly studying Native American Culture and Art at Glendale Community College, McCleve left school to work and pursue his artistic career. Those pursuits led him to Cosanti in 1970, where he worked as a foundry artisan and welder. He was known as the "Special Assembly Artisan" because, according to former Soleri protege Scott M. Davis, it took "an artist’s eye" to match up the loose aluminum links with the various windbells in many shapes and sizes. Working by day at Cosanti, in his spare time McCleve was using found pieces of scrap metal, welding the pieces together, then grinding away the weld marks and sometimes painting his work to unify it visually as a single three-dimensional sculpture. The art world took notice.

McCleve’s work was featured in exhibitions at galleries and museums such as the Phoenix Art Museum, Neville-Sargent Gallery in Chicago, the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis, and at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, where in 1974 he won the Gold Medal for the work, “Sculpture II”. He was profiled in several local papers and magazines, like The Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, and Phoenix Gazette. McCleve became very well-known in the Arizona arts community, and his friends knew him to be “always excited about new possibilities for his sculpture and there was no way that we...could keep pace with his enormous appetite.”


Michael McCleve was an artisan at Cosanti for over 12 years, leaving in 1982 to live at Arcosanti as a resident artist. There he created Yavapai Landscape (1983), the twisted metal sculpture at Cosanti in Paradise Valley. Consistently creating new work while in residence at Arcosanti, a few months before his death at age 47, McCleve wrote, “My goal in life is to do something of lasting artistic make as much as I best I long as I can.”


Photo above right: Ira's Peace, 1985, courtesy the Heard Museum Collection, Gift of Ira Howard Levy and Stan Gurell, Photo credit: Craig Smith

Above untitled sculpture photos, left and right: courtesy of Russel Adams

Above photo of McCleve (center): Courtesy the Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti

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The Artisanti E-Newsletter is written by Kelly Bird and Chloe Sykes and designed by Jesca Wales.

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