Artist and author Arthur Norby is sharing his life story in his new autobiography, “The Artist You Never Knew.” The Minnesota native will talk about his life and work at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the Hutchinson Public Library.
“We are delighted to have Arthur Norby speak at the Hutchinson Public Library,” said Katy Hiltner, head librarian. “Not only is he a renowned artist, this library event is an opportunity for Arthur to debut his recently published autobiography. With his experiences growing up in Minnesota, he is sure to have stories that will entertain readers and artists alike.”
The 81-year-old artist is probably best known for creating the Minnesota Korean War Veterans Memorial constructed in 1998. The memorial can be viewed northeast of the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul.
Norby’s life started in the small town of Montevideo where he was born and raised. He started drawing before kindergarten and has never stopped. After graduating from Litchfield High School in 1955, he tried a variety of careers ranging from 10 years in the U.S. Navy and selling insurance to owning a sporting goods store.
Nothing really worked for him, so in 1976 he gave himself one year to work as an artist.
“There have been some struggles,” he said. “I was really poor for the first 20 years. In 1996, I was chosen in a national competition to design the Minnesota Korean War Veterans Memorial. That was the turning point. Prior to that I had done five large-scale bronzes that were mostly in private collections. The next 10 years, I was in demand.”
Norby credited his time selling insurance for providing him with business training that he could apply to his growing art career.
“It helped me to think of better ways to market my work,” he said. “Making art is simple. Making a living is difficult. I opened my first art gallery in 1979 in Willmar. I have had eight formal art galleries as I progressed in my career.”
For 11 years, Norby and his wife had a gallery presence in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“It is a high-traffic market, what I call the high-rent district,” he said. “People had second homes there worth a couple of million dollars. It was the right place until 2007 when my wife said she couldn’t take it anymore. We retired to Montana where my wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Eight years later, she died. There was a big intellectual change. It changes your total perspective on everything.”
As an artist, Norby expresses his creativity in a variety of ways including sculpture, paintings and the written word.
He published his first book, “Journey,” in 2002. It showcased his major artwork during his career up to that point.
From there, he went on to write a mystery, “The Deadly Winter.”
Earlier this month, he released two additional books, “The Legacy of Maximillian Bauer” and “The Artist You Never Knew.”
Norby credited his friends, Joe and Nancy Paddock, for encouraging him to write his biography. Joe told him, “I think a lot of younger artists would benefit from the story of your life.”
He started writing his memoir in June 2018 and finished in December. He self-published it through Amazon on Demand. Norby picked up the finished book in early June.
Next on his schedule is teaching an oil painting class June 15 at New Century Academy in Hutchinson.
“My only art experience in school was in seventh grade,” he said. “There were three segments and I failed one of them. I never had good exposure to art growing up. I’m self-taught. If someone had given me the right encouragement drawing pictures, I would have become an artist earlier and had a better life. I have five students enrolled in an oil painting workshop. It’s free to the students. I’m glad to be doing it.”