Sculptor Hal Stewart knew nothing about bronze casting when he began to mold clay seven years ago.
"I spent my entire working career in the construction industry selling asphalt, Redimix concrete and sand and rock," Stewart said.
He wanted a new start for his early retirement. He picked up a piece of clay, molded it into a Native American figure, then a friend paid for Stewart's clay to be cast in bronze.
Stewart sold that first sculpture, then immediately sold a second sculpture.
"I knew I was going to go in an entirely new direction in my life," Stewart said.
His gift for sculpting birds, beasts and human figures has led him through the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit the Lakota Sioux.
He has been able to reminisce about the time he raised horses in Apache Junction, for more than the sake of reminiscing.
He has shared his gift in the sterile environs of a juvenile detention center.
July 2005, Stewart spent as the Artist-In-Residence at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
"I believe I was given a gift and that I have an obligation to share it with others," he said.
Stewart enjoys teaching children.
"They are unbridled and do not have the same blinders on that adults do. They are free to create," he said.
As a member of the Arizona Art Alliance he taught boys at the Eagle Point Detention Center a way they could express themselves.
Teaching art to these boys allowed them to see that people on the outside who are not paid to care, care," Stewart said.
Why do you want to spend time with us, we are no good, one youngster said to Stewart.
"Everyone makes mistakes and deserves a chance to start over," Stewart said.
Even though the artists are not allowed to have contact with the juveniles after they are released, Stewart found out they did make a difference.
The Art Alliance gives them contact information for art leagues and school in their area.
One boy enrolled in art classes in community college.
The boy had a very unusual last name and another instructor saw his name on a register, Stewart said.
Stewart has recently entered a new sphere in his sculpting career, that of forensic reconstruction artist.
He took the forensic class initially to improve his technique as a bust sculptor, but became fascinated with watching a human face gradually take form over a skull.
"The eyes, the facial triangle from brow bone to mouth, capture what a person is about," Stewart said.
He will bring three or four new bronze sculptures to his reception and will mingle with the public.
His Web site is www.halstewartbronze.com.