Where Are They Now? Tom Ware: Geoscientist Turned Sculptor

Title: Where Are They Now? Tom Ware: Geoscientist Turned Sculptor
Authors: Roger Matson, Jack Magathan, and Jim Rogers
Publication: The Outcrop, January 2002, p. 20-21

Editors’ Note: The Outcrop is starting another “occasional series” of short essays featuring former RMAG members who have the oil patch. The following essay on sculptor Tom Ware is the first in the series. If you would like submit an article for this series to be published in a future issue of The Outcrop, or can suggest a good subject, please contact Jim Rogers.

As profound changes permeated the oil and gas industry in the last two decades, many geologists found satisfying new careers to carry them into the new century. A notable one is Tom Ware, a widely recognized and admired sculptor in Evergreen, Colorado. Those RMAG members that keep an eye on the art world will immediately know of Tom’s sculptures.

Tom spent his undergraduate and graduate years in geology at the University of Missouri; his MA was awarded in 1951, based on a thesis about differential compaction in an Oklahoma oil field. He began his career with Gulf Oil at the research lab in Tulsa, working with Doc Ryniker, a close colleague of Hedberg, Krumbein, and Sloss. Those were exciting days for a new geologist in the burgeoning world of sandstone depositional studies. Shortly after his first petroleum job, Tom was drafted into the Army, did his basic training at Fort Riley, KS, and made topographic maps at the Presidio and in Tokyo. After mustering out, he became a charter member of the prestigious Alex McCoy & Associates. McCoy had been Chief Geologist of Gulf’s Gypsy Division, so obviously Tom made quite an impression on the Gulf “faculty.” About a year later, Torn was lured to the independent ranks by his uncle John Ware, a prominent geologist and paleontologist in Oklahoma City. Among their many clients, Ware and Ware provided extensive exploration and development services for Caulkins Oil Company, a Denver company active in the mid-continent that pioneered a play that we now know as the northwest shelf of the Anadarko Basin. Tom was wellsite geologist for all of Caulkins’ mid-continent drilling, constantly seeking that beautiful Wilcox sand.

Tom Ware, with his sculpture Planting Evergreen, which is located in front of the library in Evergreen.

Tom moved to Denver in 1961 to work for Plymouth Oil before opening his own shop in 1974. He quickly became immersed in the Minnelusa play in the Powder River Basin, and began constructing a series of detailed regional structural and stratigraphic maps that were not only technically significant, but were also works of art in their own right. During the 60’s and 70’s, Tom may have established a record for a geologist’s domiciles, having moved to Casper and back to Denver five separate times. Through these years of travels, Tom became one of Denver’s leading Minnelusa experts, marketing many of the ideas that originated on his famous maps. Some of these prospects provided ORRI’s that are still producing after 30 years. Others were dry holes, proving Tom human like the rest of us “rocknockers.”

Tom’s artistic interests (his second love) were early and many, including a college fraternity association with Mort Walker, of Beetle Bailey fame, who influenced Tom’s own college-cartooning experience. All during his geological years, Tom kept his hand in the “art pot.” Tom remembers fondly a drawing class with Jack Vallee in Oklahoma City, among other early art training associations. Later he received a more formal art education at the Kansas City Art Institute. With the gradual collapse of the Denver oil scene in the mid-eighties, Tom devoted all of his energy to art at his studio on Evergreen Lake, which he had established more than 30 years previously.

Tom’s sculpture The Muses is located in front of the new Raether Library at Colorado Academy in Denver.

Rather than attempt to explain his many accomplishments in the world of sculpture, we have chosen to show two of Tom’s commissioned works. Both are monumental bronzes: Planting Evergreen at the Library in Evergreen, CO (See photo on page 20) and The Muses at the Colorado Academy in Denver (See photo below). Tom has shown his work in ten recent exhibitions, and his numerous awards including being a four-time prizewinner at the North American Sculpture Exhibition.

In addition to his artistic accomplishments, Tom Ware currently serves as Chair of the Evergreen Water Board, is a serious wine and beer maker (his label is “Warehouse”), an astronomy hobbyist (he grinds telescope mirrors by hand), a veteran softball player, an ex-firefighter with the Evergreen FD, an avid fly-fisherman, an expert reflex-camera photographer, and finally a mycologist (mushroom enthusiast). The authors are so exhausted just listing Tom’s endeavors that we’re taking a short nap.