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Local copper craftsman to exhibit in Fountain Hills festival


CAVE CREEK – Local resident Gary Pottorff, a master copper craftsman, will be participating in the Thunderbird Artists Fountain Hills festival on Jan. 15, 16, and 17.

Pottoroff has received acclaim for his Western sculptures, wall hangings, whimsical wind sculptures, fountains, and other unique pieces. Pottorff has been working with copper for 46 years. His ranch near Cave Creek provides a peaceful setting for his studio and plenty of room to store his massive collection of old copper and other metal items he finds at garage sales, auctions and antique stores. His four potbellied pigs help to guard his belongings along with the rattlers and other wildlife on his remote desert property.

As a young adult, Pottorff worked in the racing industry and then sold cars before discovering his passion for sculpting. He first began with steel, but was quickly drawn to copper.

“Copper just spoke to me more,” Pottorff, 72, said. “It’s easier to manipulate, and I love the diverse shade of colors and shiny or dull finishes that I can create.”

Pottorff’s copper masterpieces have been displayed in prestigious museums and collections, including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. While the Old West has inspired most of his work, his most elaborate sculpture was inspired by the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977. His “Space Fantasy” sculpture is four feet wide, eight feet tall and 16 feet long, complete with ray guns that shoot water, robotic features and a full stereo system.

“It’s really something to see, and it was a lot of fun to build,” Pottorff said. “Back then, I would set it up at various shopping malls in California. Now it’s in my garage and ready for purchase for the right person.”

Pottorff has a tremendous respect for history and the techniques used centuries ago. He makes his own tools, often using the same techniques from 150 years ago. In addition, he collects pieces from other countries, such as India, Pakistan and Japan, in order to study patterns and examine how they were created.

“Whenever I feel like I’m getting really good, I pick up one of those pieces,” he said. “It makes me humble, and I’m always learning something new.”

Pottoroff joins more than 60 other artists who will be featured at the Sculpture & Wine Festival in Fountain Hills. Patrons can view and purchase diverse pieces comprised of bronze, stone, copper, clay, wood, metal, glass, gourd, steel, found objects, and mixed media.

Admission to the festival is $3 for adults, and free for children 18 years or younger. Parking is free all weekend. The event takes place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day at 16810 E. Avenue of the Fountains, and a portion of proceeds will benefit International Cancer Advocacy Network (ICAN).

For more information, call (480) 837-5637 or visit