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Michael Anthony Ricker
DESIGNS BY RICKER is carrying on the legacy established by Michael Anthony Ricker through his company "Pewter by Ricker." Michael’s brother, Gary, and sister, Mary Jo, are continuing to keep his world alive by producing, exhibiting and selling through the last remaining gallery many of the approximate 4,000 sculptures he created during his lifetime. In addition they are casting the numerous unexecuted designs and ideas he left behind utilizing sculptors he trained to use his sculpting methodologies.
ABOUT MICHAEL ANTHONY RICKER
In Michael’s lifetime, he became an internationally acclaimed artist and sculptor and produced highly sought-after artwork. He formed The Michael Ricker Casting Studios located in Estes Park, Colorado in 1968 and continued the business until he passed away from complications of an aneurysm on January 7, 2006. Michael established himself as an internationally recognized artist and sculptor and was regarded as one of the most collected artists in the world. These accomplishments were enhanced through a number of commissions and presentations of his unique works-of-art.
Michael’s artwork reflects his attention to meticulous detail and his masterly ability to execute total reality, combining beauty with integrity of design. His personal philosophy was that art is for everyone. He strove to create quality, yet moderately priced, sculptures. His near genius for knowing what the collector enjoys in art carried him and his casting studio to the number-one pewter-casting studio in the world.
MICHAEL RICKER BIOGRAPHY
Michael was born in 1940 in Fort Collins, Colorado, near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He spent his formative years in the idealic rural community which was home to Colorado A & M, renamed Colorado State University in 1957. Michael took an immediate attraction to art in his early years as he would create artistic endeavors to enter into any art competition the schools or town offered. He often won recognition or an award for his entry.
He attended college at CSU and found himself quickly becoming an entrepreneur while developing his talents. In fact, he is widely regarded as the inventor of the one-day delivery of special ordered shirts and of cartooning T-shirts that we all know today. While in college, Michael realized that T-shirts with the college logo or the fraternity/sorority logo had to be ordered and took at least six weeks before arrival. He realized new students loved to display their loyalty for the college, sports activities, social organizations, etc., and hated to wait for six weeks to display this enthusiasm. His genius brought him early success through unique inventions and patents of silkscreen processes and other graphic fields as he developed a way for people to order a shirt and have it the same day. He also saw an opportunity to add cartooning to university names, fraternity or sorority party T-shirts and other fun activity shirts and pursued this business.
Michael quickly found himself in great demand throughout Fort Collins and hit the road selling T-shirts from campus to campus. He closed a large deal with J.C. Pennys and headed back to Fort Collins to produce the order, working day and night.
In the 1960s, Michael developed some secrets to use the silk screen methodology for applications on candles and he began to sell candles with cartoons and messages on them. As a side line, he also began to sculpt and cast ceramic candle holders in the shapes of characters. But it was the jewelry business where Michael first started using the medium of pewter to cast rings, pendants and jewelry boxes.
In the late 1960s, Michael teamed up with his in-laws to start Ricker-Bartlett, Inc. in Estes Park, Colorado. His then father-in-law developed revolutionary molding and casting techniques and soon Ricker-Bartlett began to sell Pewter PeeWee figurines by the thousands to stores all over the United States. You can still buy many of the early PeeWees today here on the ricker.com web site.
In 1975, Michael had a vision – he wanted to create an artistic vision of a fictional pewter town depicting life in the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century. He worked tirelessly for an entire year and the resulting masterpiece was known as "Turn of the Century City Park." He wanted the first casting to be given to our great country and presented the sculpture to President Gerald Ford in 1976. "Turn of the Century City Park" was displayed during the Bi-Centennial in the Great Hall of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Upon visiting with the President, he was inspired to create an entire city and dedicated the next 10 years of his life to his new vision.
During the years between 1976 and 1985, Michael also released his first Limited Edition sculptures. Collectors from throughout the world anticipated Michael’s new releases each year and would love to get the first of a four-part series with a low number. He also would release annually a new segment towards his great undertaking which he now named "Park City."
In 1985, Michael’s masterpiece was completed. A grand gala event took place in Denver, Colorado with former President Gerald and Mrs. Ford as the guests of honor. Glen Campbell provided entertainment for the 1000 plus guests and Michael presented the "key" to Park City to President Fort. The incredible event also was attended by many of Michael’s dignitary and celebrity friends.
In 1992, Michael broke ground on a new casting studio and museum in Estes Park. By this time, he had parted ways with his original partners and the company became known as Michael Ricker Pewter. In 1993, the new building was opened with another gala event in Estes Park attended by over 700 collectors.
Throughout the 1990s, Michael’s vast collector base and diverse collection of artwork continued to grow. His talent was immense and he was adding up to 100 new sculptures each year. Collectors continued to gather each summer in Estes Park, Colorado as Michael hosted an annual charity golf tournament and artist showing.
This bright light was extinguished in January 2006. Though the light went out of the physical man, his tremendous accomplishments will be kept alive through the efforts of his brother, Gary Ricker, and his sister, Mary Jo Simons, who have formed the company and production studio named "Designs by Ricker." His legacy will continue on the Web Site ricker.com and at the Showroom/Museum now located at 6868 North Franklin Avenue in Loveland, Colorado.
At the present time (September 2012) we are still looking for a permanent display site for Michael’s beloved "Park City – America Remembered".
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