Malcolm Phinney may be best known in Wallowa County for his representational paintings of nature and for the more than 20 years he managed Valley Bronze’s show house of art on Main Street in Joseph.
Phinney recently moved across the street to his own Phinney Gallery of Fine Arts at 17 S. Main St., where he and wife Tami also show the works of a few other select artists. He remains popular as a painter, with many of his Wallowa County inspired landscapes being purchased by local collectors.
But Phinney is also a sculptor who has done architectural ornamentation for the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., and sculptures for various other clients. His latest work is a custom creation 8 feet tall.
The full figure is of Walter Clore, a Rotarian, county extension agent in Prosser, Wash., and the man considered the father of Washington wine — in part because of his educational and retail Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser.
Fellow Rotarians and friends of Clore originally conceived the piece and Phinney was recommended as the artist after one of them saw some of his work in Joseph.
Phinney did a clay sketch of Walter Clore’s bust as an example of his work. On the strength of that, several models that preceded the final large sculpture were commissioned, the Prosser Rotary raised the funds for the final sculpture and the commission was completed.
“I made adjustments in the clay until it was just the way they wanted it,” Phinney said.
Then, a member of the Clore family came to see it and put the final seal of approval on the likeness.
The sculpture is being cast at Parks Bronze in Enterprise right now and should be ready for unveiling at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center this fall, Phinney said.
“I think the thing I’m really excited about was being able to work with an 8-foot piece,” Phinney said. “It’s just so much fun. It’s even funner now that it’s done.”
In typical Wallowa County fashion, business neighbors Sam Stowell of Joseph Hardware, Sean Flanagan of the Peace Pipe, Andy Crow of Main Street Motors in Enterprise and Phinney’s father-in-law Wendell Rock of La Grande helped load the large clay sculpture onto a Main Street Motors truck for the 6-mile journey to Enterprise and the Parks Bronze Foundry.
Clore seemed to enjoy the drive.
Wallowa County Chieftain
May 10, 2016