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The Fire and Fury of Starr Kempf

Starr Gideon Kempf was a Modern Day Renaissance Man

Born on August 13, 1917, Starr Kempf grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and would become one of the worlds premiere sculptors.  He was an author, sculptor, architect, artist and so much more!  He’s best known for his giant steel wind kinetic sculptures.  Through his carrier he would build his own home, he was a painter and illustrator, he wrote 3 plays, 2 novels, he sculpt 52 bronze sculptures and 11 monumental steal kinetic wind sculptures.

The information on Starr Kempf is varied and hard to find but here is what I was able to find.  Starr was raised on a small farm in a Mennonite community where his father and seven uncles were all farmers, blacksmiths and carpenters.  As a boy he would cave wood sculptures of the animals he saw around him.

In 1936 he turned 16 and ran away from home to Colorado and began his adult life.  By 1937 he was awarded a scholarship to the Fine Arts Center of Colorado Springs for his drawing of a horse pulling a cart.

He served two years in the Army Air Corps and was honorably discharged. He began to show signs of depression during his service which would follow him his whole life.

He married Hedwig Roelen in 1942 and had three children: Madelin, Michael, and Charlotte (or Lottie depending on who you talk to).  They lead a very stable life with Hedwig working as a RN and Starr as a local artist and sculptor.

In 1948, they purchased property in Cheyenne Canyon, where Starr designed and built his house and art studio.

In 1955 Starr began to work in bronze sculptures. His work are in collections around the country. They express the struggle of human existence and the quest for freedom.

In 1977 he began to create the elaborate steel wind sculptures which we know him so well by today. Each sculpture took up to three years to complete. The kinetic wind sculptures were often more than fifty feet in height. Ten rose into the air from 1978 to 1994.

On April 7th 1995, Starr Kempf committed suicide by gunshot.

I think his work has come to be identified with the city and the city with him

Jack Frost Colorado Springs Artist
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