The Artist Within
By Marla Santos
Carl Young is the only artist in the world who creates life-size Figurative Sculptures in Glass.
The story goes: “When I was down on the beach in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, I came across an old man who looked much like a wizard, and he had a walking stick that he said was magic. He said: ‘I know you’re an artist, and I want to show you something.’ He told me to get in his little boat. As he took me down and around these cliffs, he tells me there is something inside this cave that he wants me to see. He warned me to be very careful and said: ‘I know you probably don’t believe in dragons, but there’s something in there that you need to see.’ So we go up to the cave, and the old wizard brings me inside, and it turns out—there’s a dragon. We capture the dragon, take him back to the studio, the wizard feeds him the glass, and the dragon’s breath makes the glass shoot out! And that’s how we make the sculptures.”
Young began by making metal and ceramic sculptures. The metal sculptures can be aluminum, bronze, brass or copper. Some of these are on display at Spearmint Rhino clubs across the country and at Sapphire Club, here in Vegas. It was in 2007 that he relocated to Baja, Mexico, and found “the wizard.” It was then that he decided to create the world’s only life-sized figurative sculptures in glass. These awesome one-of-a-kind art sculptures are so beautiful that high-end art collectors buy them to add to their collections.
Artists make sculptures out of clay, wood, and even marble. Young does something completely different. He uses real-life models, to create an impression of their body. STRIPLV models, Playboy models, and many beautiful women have been honored to be Young’s muse. Covering their nude bodies with plaster, he captures their exquisite forms, revealing their torsos and derrieres in a work of art that will remain forever beautiful, unchanged by time. You, too, can have a one-of-a-kind art piece made of your body.
The plaster is similar to what doctors use for casting a broken bone. A model needs to be naked or wearing a g-string. Shaving the parts of your body that has hair on it is very important, as is applying Vaseline all over your skin so that the plaster will release without giving you a Brazilian. Then a pose is decided. A simple pose takes less than two hours, but holding a more complicated pose or full body pose can require multiple impressions lasting over two days or more.
“Sometimes a model can’t hold a pose for the 1½ to 2-hour time that it takes for the plaster to set and then he has to start again. One model had her wrists tied onto something and was suspended. She was standing and it was very difficult. We ended up getting a nice sculpture out of it, but it was very difficult. There was a man who wanted to immortalize his manhood. He took Viagra, so he would remain hard during the casting procedure. He was especially proud of the outcome and it hangs in his house so he can show it off.”
When Young covers you with plaster, all you have to do is relax and hold the pose. First he takes an impression of your body in a pose you’ve chosen. Then he creates a perfect original and a reproduction mold. Then Young calls on “the wizard”—and then very, very carefully, they wake up the dragon and feed him the glass. The dragon’s breath does the rest and the results are amazing! Young claims almost all the models he has made into sculpture have wanted to do more after their first session. So how did Young end up with this unusual art career and working on the beach down in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, where he feels free and his dog can run freely on the beach?
“My grandfather, Karl Jung, was a heart surgeon and owned Surgeon’s General Hospital in Chicago. Clarence Platt, my maternal grandfather, was a missionary to the Navajos, and was the community pastor in Harbert, Michigan, where he helped raise this crazy artist who just wanted to do his own thing on the beach!”
“Growing up, we lived on the beach next to the Warren Sand Dunes on Lake Michigan. I built sandcastles and I dammed up the water from coming in, and that was really fun doing stuff with my hands. Then we had these dirt roads, that for some reason, frogs and tadpoles and life started coming to fruition from the creeks and stuff. So I was down in the creeks playing there and also in the mud after it rained (basically, the same material I use now).” Was this the beginning of an art career?
“My mother had been the president of the Chicago Models Association. My father was an inventor of photographic material, and later he ended up working in a machine shop for Northwestern University’s prosthetics research lab. They did the beginning of mild electric controls. They’d make a fake hand and they’d glue stuff on there, and he’d make all the linkages that would make the hand function like a real hand. This was before Hollywood’s special effects knew how to do anything. They were making that stuff at Northwestern University and they were the biggest research labs for prosthetics in the U.S. I had no concept of the importance. He had a photo assignment for the Chicago Art Institute, to shoot the impressionism section in 3D, and again, I had no concept when I was looking at Monet and Van Gogh, all originals. It was all roped off for him to shoot these 3D pictures, but I didn’t care, because I was more interested in the girls with short skirts walking around Michigan Avenue. He didn’t like that and he got pretty upset with me. I was clueless as a kid.”
“Then we moved to Gary, Indiana, where my mom remarried Paul Ireland and they had three motion picture film labs for processing and printing motion picture films. Back in the day before videotapes, and now CDs and digital, everybody had to use film. We were the biggest lab between Hollywood and New York. We built all the film printing and processing equipment at the beginning. I ended up as a janitor, then I was driving a delivery car up and down into Chicago. I was mixing chemicals in vats with 400 or 500 gallons of developing agent, and then we processed millions and millions of film. We did more porno film than anywhere else in the world. We did everything, and I ran the film end for him.”
“I got divorced, finished running the film lab, and I got out of the Midwest and came to Laguna Beach and saw the art in Laguna. I was living there and I met a guy who had a limousine business contract with Olympic Gardens, the first high level strip club out here. That was probably 20-some years ago now. We just brainstormed, and I said that there were these soft-sculpture butlers that you could position their hands so you could put a tray on them, and they charged $10-20 grand for them. I said we could make them out of people. We could cast real people. He thought it was a great idea and we called them Lapikins and Tablekins. I thought it would be good to get out of Laguna and move to Vegas. What was I thinking…right? I started getting stuff for making plaster casts and mannequin pieces, but I had to go back to Laguna to get some stuff. He was into Ecstasy and being crazy. He drove his Toyota Land Cruiser at 100 mph into a semi parked in an alley, and it blew up. He killed himself, so I didn’t have a partner anymore. I went back to Vegas and decided to drive a cab for a while.”
“The family business back in Indiana collapsed and my mom passed away. I had to go back and had to shut down everything. We had film vaults of old movies. We even had The Cisco Kid in there, and I had to figure out what to do with everything. When I came back to Vegas, that’s when I started to transition into another world.”
“My friend Egor had a limo, and his girlfriend Donna D’Errico was driving it. She was an adult entertainer over at Club Paradise. A Playboy talent recruiter found her and then Donna became the September 1995 Playmate of the Month in Playboy Magazine. She came back and said: “Carl, what are we going to do?” I said: “Maybe I should be your manager.” We went to Hollywood, bought a boat, and lived on the boat in Marina Del Ray. She later became Mrs. Nikki Sixx and starred in Baywatch, Married with Children, and Austin Powers in Goldmember.
“I then decided to go back into making functional art, but that became boring real fast. I decided to cast high-end performers from home. The first girls I made casts of and then sculptures of were aerialists with 6-packs. My motivation for all this had to do with my family. The first issue of Popular Photography, my dad shot it with a camera he made. In my mind, I always thought it would be hard to compete with what he did in his life, but I wanted to do something on my own that is artistic with a similar family background. I decided I wanted to do high-end Fine Art. In 2001, when the 9/11 event happened, Vegas came to a standstill. I began creating sculptures full-time. I started casting performers from the Cirque du Soleil “O” show. I moved on to ballet dancers, a lot of showgirls and strippers, celebrities and actors. I had five or six friends paint on the sculptures, and they looked nice, and they are still on my website. I’m considering doing a project like that, and I’m talking to some people at the Bellagio. But, I still felt that I was not doing high-end Fine Art. The sculptures were no longer sculptures…they were paintings. I learned how to do cold cast metal and ceramics, and now we’re getting into areas where most people can’t even do it. I started designing my own equipment to do ceramics, metal and mirror tile. Commissions came in and galleries wanted my sculptures, but making them took a huge amount of space and time.”
“I decided these things were fun and I enjoyed doing them and figuring out how to make those things happen, but now let’s do something that nobody can do…let’s do glass. Let’s find a media that is the most difficult to control, and no one else has figured out how to do it… They’ve tried. I began to set up a production studio down by the beach in Rosarito, Mexico, next to the Titanic set. There was gunfire every night as I worked outdoors in the studio, and the Mexican drug wars got started. I literally dodged bullets, but kept working. I built my own kiln (an oven for burning, baking, drying or firing pottery) down in Mexico. Everything I need is there, except sometimes I have to go over to San Diego for certain ingredients. But it’s complicated bringing anything that looks like white powder across the border. I spent probably eight years messing around, building equipment, testing equipment, firing a kiln, firing it again, breaking stuff and firing it again, learning what systems didn’t work. One of the things my dad had taught me was: ‘If you want to learn photography, and the process is photography, you start with one type of developer, one type of film, one type of camera, and then you start learning all the variables as you test.’ Now, that would take you forever, but that was his philosophy, and that was a little bit of my philosophy about how to master and make glass sculptures.”
“I love working down in Mexico. There are just no words to describe the sunlight by the ocean passing through the kiln glass. I’m on the beach and I feel free, and my dog can run freely on the beach.”
Recently Young has moved back to Las Vegas part-time, where he has another studio, but still loves his Mexican beach. His work can be found in galleries in Southern California, Las Vegas, and online at ArtBrokerage.com. You can order from the master inventory or have a custom commission sculpture made. Whether you select Glass, Ceramic, or Metal, along with your choice of background and lighting effects, your sculpture can be displayed unique to your own liking. Clients can choose to be cast in the studio, in the privacy of a hotel room, or at a Day Spa. ForeverYoungSculptures.com