City File, It’s What I Do
Man of Bronze
Local sculptor Tom Corbin delights in the third dimension.
Words by Jan Dumay
Photo by Tara Shupe
His work is in 27 galleries, museums and showrooms nationally and internationally, in dozens of noteworthy public installations in the Kansas City area and elsewhere, and in several movies such as The Perfect Murder and True Lies. To Tom Corbin, 62, a prolific and easygoing Kansas City bronze sculptor, painter, and furniture and accessories designer and owner of Corbin Bronze, nothing inspires him more than the human figure. In the Kansas City area, noteworthy examples of his sculptures include the Children’s Fountain at North Oak Trafficway and Northeast 32nd Avenue in North Kansas City, Missouri; the Firefighter’s Memorial at West 31st Street and Broadway Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri; and Ewing and Muriel Kauffman at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Missouri .
- Corbin’s art career began in 1986, when he left the security of a job at a local advertising agency to become a full-time sculptor. Through the years, individual collectors have included George Brett, Sofia Vergara, Ellen DeGeneres, Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emeril Lagasse, Jack Nicholson and the late Frank Sinatra.
- “We’re pretty established now, so I can take some chances with my art,” Corbin says. “The pieces where I take the biggest chances tend to be the most successful. So my style continues to evolve and I’m probably just as excited now as I’ve ever been.”
- His offices and studio are in a 1912 firehouse in Kansas City, Kansas’, Rosedale neighborhood and feature an upstairs gallery and an outdoor sculpture garden.
- In the 2006 art book Tom Corbin: The Inevitable Artist, Corbin admits that sometimes his muse needs a little nudging. “There are days when I’m just not into it. But I force myself to pick up a tool and begin working. I have learned that if I do that first mark, I can pick up the rhythm, and good things come of it.”
- He has suffered for his art. When he was working on the Firefighter’s Memorial and holding a flathead screwdriver, it slipped and went right through his nose, stopping just by his eye. He initially thought “this is bad,” but it turned out to be a relatively minor injury.
Favorite Quote: “An artist cannot fail. It is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley
What inspires you: Great art and my wife.
Preferred social media and why: Facebook #becauseimnotgoodathashtags
Last good movie: Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict. It’s an insightful portrait of the eccentric collector and gallerist who assembled one of the great collections of modern art. Poignant, but somewhat sad.
Favorite Kansas City restaurant or hotspot: A long Friday lunch at The Classic Cup with my boys I’ve known for 25 years. Two to three hours of laughter and banter.
What makes you cry: In 1971, I sobbed during and after watching the movie Brian’s Song. Gets me every time.
What makes you laugh: James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.
Last splurge: A painting by Jules Olitski.
Who is your hero? My deceased sister, Jane, who was racked with illness all her life but demonstrated incredible courage, kindness and love as a sister, wife, friend and mother.
To learn more about Corbin, visit his website at corbinbronze.com.