Peter Gronquist

Words/Photos by Greg Bemis

Here at Shwood we are constantly pushing ourselves to try new things and are inspired by others who follow in suit. Peter Gronquist is an artist who definitely embodies this ideology. Peter lives and works in Portland Oregon, creating provocative sculpture pieces using taxidermied animals and various weaponry. I have known Peter for a about a year now and am consistently blown away by his ability to push the limits of what seems possible in sculpture.  After meeting Peter through a friend and hearing he was on the hunt for an intern, I gladly volunteered to help.  I worked for him for a whopping ten hours and after sanding antlers and pouring molds for hello kitty grenades I decided my hands were getting far too dirty and told him I had to focus on my school work.  Naturally, Peter was a real gentleman about it and totally understood.  Little did I know that three months later I would be sanding hundreds of small parts for sunglasses and getting just as filthy as before, oh the hilarity of my life.  Anyway, Peter and I have stayed in touch and I stopped by his amazing new studio space to see what he has been up to. Peter is getting ready for a massive solo show at Gallery 1988 in Venice Beach, and offered me a sneak peak at some of his new pieces.  Stay posted for more info on his show.

Greg Bemis: Some background info to start off. Home town? Education? Were do you currently reside?

Peter Gronquist: Born and raised in Portland oregon, school of visual arts in new York and San Francisco art institute, just moved back to Portland after 14 years and loving it.

Greg: What does an average day look like for you?

Peter: Been getting up at 5 or 6 AM lately (I have a baby).  Breakfast with family, then off to studio.  Lately been doing all sculpture, so a lot of resin and steel and unbelievable amounts of sanding.  Go home at 5 or 6, hang with my wife and baby, then go to bed.  Repeat

Greg: Music or no music when you are in the studio working if so what have you been jammin out to?

Peter: Always music, usually old rap or Nina Simone pandora.  Listening to mellow hype (odd future) this week a lot. Lately I’ve been getting into podcasts, and I just got my cousin’s password to her account so I’m on to books on tape.  Right now it’s game of thrones.

Greg: Do you sketch out your ideas before you start sculpting or does it happen organically?

Peter: Not really.  I usually just get the shape in my mind while laying in bed before sleep, if I do any sketching it’s basically just a couple lines to remember the shape.  With sculpting horns it’s usually best to just start shaping the armature and letting it speak to you, it’s just messing around until it’s right.

Greg: Your work is very unique, how did you get into the taxidermy animal sculpture medium? (I just made this a medium for your information.)

Peter: It was maybe 5 years ago, I had a gazelle mount with a perfect v in his antlers, so I added an L and made the Louis vuitton gazelle.  I’d show you but I’m not legally allowed to anymore.  Anyway i liked it and decided to make more, then moved into the gun antlers as well.

Greg: Seeing as your work is often times provocative and sometimes controversial what has the strangest or strongest reaction to your work been over the years?

Peter: I guess probably people getting angry because they think I am glorifying violence with my work, which I get frequently.

Greg: You have a solo show coming up, can you talk about any of the pieces you are working on for it? Does any one in particular really excite you?

Peter: I’m really digging all of them.  There will be about 12 big pieces and tons of small ones, the first one I had plated is probably my favorite right now.  It’s the kudu with the skeleton antlers, running with the theme of genetic experiments gone horribly and beautifully wrong.  Another theme in the show is genetic branding (the fashion pieces), which is something that doesn’t seem very far off in reality.

Greg: What inspires you to continue to create new work and push the limits of what is perceived as possible?

Peter: I think that anything you can dream up you can make, and I really love to make things.  I’m trying to make as much as I can before I die, it sounds cliche but we really only have one life to live.  Making stuff makes me happy, so that’s what I do.Greg: When you are not working on art you are…….

Peter: Hanging out with beautiful wife Kim and  son Dove, family and friends, and skating.

Greg: Any parting inspirational words for the kids out there?

Peter: Make something every day



For more of Peter’s work check out:


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