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Courtesy of Russ RuBert
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Courtesy of Russ RuBert
Springfield's Interactive Artist
Gears click , springs stretch, and other loud mechanical noises emanate as a five-year old child turns a handle at the base of K-Man, a huge, interactive robot-like sculpture made of steel located in Springfield’s Jordan Valley Park. As K-Man’s arms and legs move and his head turns, the child’s expression changes from surprise to awe, and finally to a big grin.
Springfield artist Russ RuBert has become identified as the artist who created K-Man. “This isn’t really made just for kids—any age audience will enjoy it,” Russ says. “However, kids especially feel empowered, to be able to move a twenty-three-foot sculpture all by themselves.” Russ was commissioned to create the piece for the 1994 Walt Disney Children’s Arts Festival at Jefferson City. K-Man then toured Missouri for a couple of years before winding up in storage.
But local citizens started a movement to get K-Man returned to Springfield, Russ says. “In some ways, K-Man has become my favorite sculpture, because of its impact on our local community.” K-Man is now on display year-round.
Springfield residents also know Russ for his EchoSphere sculpture, located at the corner of National and Grand, in front of Missouri State University. “I was interested in the way that light moves across the sculpture,” Russ says. “Since people drive by the sculpture in their cars, people are also moving as they view the sculpture.” Part of the sculpture includes four disks on the ground, where people can sit and spin around as they look at the sculpture.
“I’m interested in the interaction between art and the viewers,” Russ says. “Sometimes my pieces are kinetic. Sometimes the viewer moves through the art—the viewer is kinetic.”
The Eternal Flame at St. John’s Mid-America Cancer Center at Springfield stands twenty-three feet tall and weighs more than four thousand pounds. It is one of the largest uncast brass sculptures in the world. “I made it from naval brass, which was imported from Japan,” Russ says. He built it for cancer patients and their families and has received amazing testimonials about how it gave them comfort during a difficult time.
In 2007, Russ received the prestigious Missouri Individual Artist Award, the state’s highest honor in the arts, given each year to one artist by the Missouri Arts Council.
“I was so surprised to be nominated, and even more surprised to win,” Russ says. “I think I’m the first sculptor that has received this award, which is for all the arts. I was blown away by the ceremony and how many people are involved.” Russ has enjoyed art all his life. During his school years, he realized he had a knack for visualizing objects three-dimensionally. He also had a talent for math. Art scholarships allowed him to attend the Kansas City Institute of Art, where he worked with mixed media and ceramics.
Russ is just hitting his stride and is able to choose his projects. “I’m still playing—making art and doing what I love.”
For more information visit www.rubert.com.