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Richard MacDonald’s Expressions

By Bettina McBee | Photos courtesy of Richard MacDonald

Richard MacDonald’s sculptures are alive. As he sculpts, he studies how to interpret what he is seeing and feeling into sculpture. The pieces’ gestures and the space they encompass reflect countless moments captured with detailed precision and frozen in bronze. The spontaneous energy between MacDonald and his muse is quickly and diligently preserved.

As a child, MacDonald was intrigued by the sculpture of a little old man dressed in a tuxedo that stood on top of his parents’ favorite wine opener. The head was the corkscrew. The artistic design and functional mechanics of the wine opener sparked his curiosity and artistic endeavors.

MacDonald was born in Pasadena and is a cum laude graduate from the Art Center College of Design School. Inspired by the artist Michelangelo, the Renaissance art period ignited in him a passion to master the skills of painting, drawing, architecture, and sculpture. After graduation, he became a successful illustrator and soon taught himself the art of sculpture and, in his words, to “see from the inside out.”

As an artist, MacDonald focuses on exploring the depths of human emotions and the subtleties of physical expression. His models range from subjects in the stages of infancy to those showing agility, such as cheetahs, as well magnitude, such as Clydesdales. McDonald selects models with dancing and athletic abilities so he can see the energy of their movements displayed by the position of their skeleton, the strength of their muscles, and their introverted or extroverted expressions.

Viewers will want to touch MacDonald’s sculptures to get the full feeling of the spirit inside the muses’ stances. And the viewer also becomes part of his collaboration. This is why MacDonald’s work is collected around the world.

His list of accomplishments is staggering, and includes monumental pieces such as The Flair, made for the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the towering Momentum, which in 2000 celebrated Pebble Beach’s one-hundredth year with the U.S. Open. His accolades reflect decades of dedication to figurative art, and in 2016, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts Council for Monterey County.

MacDonald’s passion for art has been inherited by his two children, and their support has been invaluable to him. Daughter Michele Jayson manages his gallery in Carmel, and son Richard Jr., with his wife, Ariane, beside him, oversees the gallery in Laguna Beach. The gallery in Palm Desert, like the others, was designed by MacDonald. He has published three books, all of which are beautifully photographed and bound and showcase his own art history.

Being a mentor to his children, his three grandsons, and young aspiring artists is also important to MacDonald. “Success doesn’t make you talented, but it puts you on a pedestal of belief,” he says. “When children meet an accomplished artist, they are inspired.”

Years ago, MacDonald worked in a small studio in Sand City. Later, he relocated to Garden Road before moving to his Ryan Ranch Studio in Monterey, where he’s been based for over 20 years. Equipped with its own foundry, the enormous space allows MacDonald to oversee all stages of his creations, from start to finish. In the midst of the pandemic, MacDonald’s sculptures continue to sell, and he continues to create.

The cherished, tuxedoed wine opener has a special place in MacDonald’s studio, and is displayed to refresh and encourage his childlike curiosity of the human condition.

For a virtual tour of MacDonalds’s gallery, visit


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