Michael Timothy McCullough
September 24, 1951 ~ March 3, 2016
Michael Timothy McCullough, 64, passed away peacefully in his Ridgway, Colorado home on March 3, 2016, with family and loved ones at his side, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
McCullough was born September 24, 1951 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of seven children born to Winifred Smith and James McCullough. He graduated from Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio in 1969 and went on to study art at Florida State University.
Mostly self-taught, McCullough had a true passion for art, and he shared it with his community. He moved to Ridgway in 1972 and worked as a builder for nearly 40 years, paying for his "art habit," as he said.
McCullough built portions of the Cascade and Portland Creek flumes in Ouray and poured the concrete vault that houses Ouray County records in the courthouse.
But it was his artwork that grew in demand over the years.
McCullough sculpted 10 commissioned representational monumental bronze statues for the people of Ouray, Telluride, Ridgway, Montrose and Grand Junction.
Ouray’s San Juan Miner statue is perhaps the most iconic local landmark shaped by human rather than geological forces. The sculpture is the focal point of the Ouray Miners’ Memorial at the entrance of the Hot Springs Pool. “Life-and-a-half size,” in McCullough’s words, the statue is nine feet tall, not including the rock pedestal and drill steel.
His bronze likeness of Walter Walker, with son Preston on his shoulders, stands prominently on Main Street in downtown Grand Junction.
McCullough’s ability to capture athletic grace in motion appears in his kinetic statue of the late free-rider, Hoot Brown, at the top of Telluride’s terrain park. Three more of his monumental bronze statues — a female skier, a snowboarder and a hand-steel miner — reside in Mountain Village Plaza.
His red fox sculpture, which resides in Ridgway, won the People's Choice Award as part of Montrose, Colorado's Public Art eXperience (PAX).
Michael owned and lived in Ridgway's historic firehouse on North Lena Street. Outside the firehouse stands his flying eagle, a landmark sculpture for locals and visitors alike, comprised of 120 welded pieces.
Inside the creative chaos of the firehouse, McCullough welcomed friends and visitors most any time to tour his artistic home and studio. He often took visitors around to the back of the firehouse to see Ridgway's original jail, built in the early 1900s, or drove them around the block in his historic Ridgway firetruck. He could also be seen driving the historic firetruck in nearly every county parade.
McCullough saw Ridgway as a "diamond in the middle of nowhere," as he said, and he worked tirelessly to help transform it into a town with an artistic identity. He created Public Art in Ridgway Colorado (PARC), an organization of local citizens devoted to bringing public art to Ridgway's outdoor spaces. He also helped launch the Ridgway Sculpture Contest, Alley Poems, Alley Art and a popular Hotties Calendar which showcased artistic processes involving heat.
McCullough was also instrumental in helping Ridgway achieve Creative District designation in the state of Colorado in 2013.
McCullough sold his signature motorcycle accessories under his King's Armor brand, including the fiery aluminum skull that adorns motorcycles across the country.
In 2014, McCullough told the Ouray County Plaindealer that he "was born an artist and will always be an artist."
McCullough was a former EMT, the first trash man in Ouray County and an avid hiker and runner.
He and his partner, Lucy Boody, turned the firehouse into a haven for Hurricane Katrina victims and set up funds and sent care packages and letters to troops overseas. "He accomplished more in one day than most people do in a week," Lucy said.
McCullough was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his children, Michael Fredrick McCullough of Montrose, Colorado and Grace Lynn McCullough of Telluride, Colorado; six siblings including Maggie McCullough (Dusty Marion), of South Carolina; Joan Braucher (Ray), of Massillon, Ohio; Yolanda McCullough (Jim), of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Stephanie Thompson (Sonny), of Fredericksburg, Virginia; Kelly Craddock (Rick), of Firestone, Colorado and Rick Smith (Kris), of Navarre, Ohio.
A celebration of life will be held Sunday, March 6 at 1:00 p.m. at the Sherbino Theater, 604 Clinton St., Ridgway, Colorado.