backroads sculptor sam

Sam Spiczka, aka Sculptor Sam, doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand why people think steel is rigid.

Sam, who has been making steel flow and bend since he was a little boy working in his dad’s Sauk Rapids, Minn. metal working shop, sees steel as being like plastic or water. With some heat mixed with imagination, steel can stand on its hind legs and do tricks.

“That’s both a good thing and a bad thing,” Sam, who has a sculpture park outside his rural Sauk Rapids studio and home, said. “Sometimes people ask me if my work is made from wood. When they learn it’s made from steel, they are sometimes disappointed. Some people expect steel to have a certain look.”

But plenty of people do get it and have been delighted by his work. Sculptor Sam has his work installed from California to Texas to Ohio and in between. 

In 2018, Sam was the only American invited to Icheon in South Korea. There, under a tent, sculptors from around the world worked outdoors in a park to create works for the city’s large sculpture park.

“People came to the park and watched us work,” he said.  

Sam has developed a bit of a specialty in sculpting human hands from steel. In 2016, Sam lost all four fingers of his left hand in a lawn mower accident. That got him to thinking about hands. He’s made a number of them since then. Not surprisingly, many of the sculpted hands have long beautiful fingers. 

“The Minnesota State Arts Board recently commissioned me to do a new hand series,” he said.

Some of those hands will be installed in downtown St. Cloud this winter.  

Lately, Sam has also been developing some functional art.

“Most of my sculptures are pretty to look at, but you can’t use them for anything,” Sam said. “Recently I designed a line of tables and lamps.”

The tables have a round wooden top and fabricated steel legs. The legs have that same flowing seamless look that so many of Sam’s sculptures have. He sells the tables and a line of electric lamps from his studio, at shows around the country, and on-line from etsy.com.

Sam’s sculpture park is open to the public. There you’ll see examples of steel misbehaving. The airborne ladder, for example, doesn’t look like steel or wood. You’ll want to make an appointment, however. Sam is often traveling to install a new sculpture. You can reach him at samspiczka@hotmail.com.