Sculpting the beast: Doellinger finds artistic home in the Wild West

FWPD K9 by Mick Doellinger

Deollinger Sculptures

6387 Camp Bowie Blvd.

Suite B-284

Fort Worth 76116

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Mick Doellinger spent many years as a taxidermist in his homeland of Australia. Now, however, he sculpts animals at his studio in Fort Worth.

“I’ve always been interested in animals and art and the outdoors,” he said. “As with most things I have done, I came to sculpting full time in a roundabout fashion.

“Every job I ever had involved animals in some way.”

- Advertisement -

The Fort Worth City Council in March acquired a bronze Doellinger sculpture titled FWPD K9 to honor all canine officers who have served the Fort Worth Police and Fire Departments. The sculpture shows a large dog moving forward in pursuit with all the senses alert.

“It is an excellent example of the support many residents in our community have for our first responders that this sculpture has been commissioned and donated for display at the Bob Bolen [police and fire training center],” said District 9 Councilwoman Ann Zadeh in March.

The sculpture is on view in the K9 Cemetery, located at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, 505 W. Felix St.

During Doellinger’s career with animals, he:

- Advertisement -

*Competed in rodeos from age 15 to 28 and traveled to the United States to compete beginning in 1979.

*Apprenticed as a butcher from age 15 to 19.

*Was involved in wildlife management and guiding in the Outback.

*Started sculpting animal forms that are used in the taxidermy industry in 1980.

*Started his own taxidermy business in Australia in 1980 and worked there until 2003, when he moved to this country to pursue a career in fine art.

*Created his first bronze sculpture in 1983.

Since 2006 he’s been sculpting animals full time, with a few notable exceptions.

“I was introduced to a famous Australian sculptor at the age of 11, and with his guidance, I sculpted my first piece in terra cotta,” Doellinger recalled.

Almost 63, he has lived a full life — and he’s far from finished as he continues to turn out one popular piece after another from his studios just outside Weatherford. Though not Australian by birth, he claims it as his homeland since his parents moved there from West Germany when he was 2 in 1958.

It was in Melbourne that he realized his love of art, particularly sculpting.

“I was always fascinated with the Natural History Museum, the sculpture, the taxidermy, specimens,” he said. “I always used to draw, doodle as a kid, but haven’t kept up with that.”

That fascination with detail continues today. On his website, Doellinger says: “When someone looks at my sculptures, I hope they feel the essence of the animal. I want people to connect with the piece in some way; to notice subtle nuances of the shape, motion or character.”

Doellinger moved to Fort Worth in 2003, originally to help an old friend. He stayed because he wanted to be successful with his art in America — and indeed he has been.

“I came here to help him with his business. He ended up moving, but I stayed.”

Seven years later, he met his wife, Katrina, at a show in Reno, Nevada. She is a world-traveled photographer in her own right and now photographs his work.

“Mick’s work is amazing. It’s captivating,” she said.

She is also adept at capturing animals, albeit on film, and she’s done so around the world.

“She knows how to capture the magic of that perfect moment,” Doellinger said.

Doellinger’s family has a history of artistic endeavors. His mother painted and made pottery. “I’ve been told my grandfather was a muralist in Germany, but never met him,” he said.

Doellinger has sculpted everything from humans to dogs, horses to European red stag, African cape buffalo and elephants to kangaroos.

“The whimsical pieces are always small in size and very popular, but I really enjoy creating the larger-sized pieces,” he said.

His work is in private collections around the world, along with numerous larger sculptures in public places.

* Headin’ North is a life-sized longhorn steer of which castings are in several private collections. One collector purchased a second piece that was installed at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin.

* A one-third-life-size black rhino sculpture, entitled Brute Force, is in two museum collections, the Warren Wildlife Gallery in Austin and Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri.

* A couple commissioned him to sculpt retired University of Houston football coach Bill Yeoman a few years ago. This one-of-a-kind piece is installed in front of the new TDECU Stadium at the university.

Locally, he was commissioned to create the K-9 Service sculpture by a private individual who wanted to donate a piece to the Fort Worth Police and Fire Training Academy.

“This is my second public sculpture in North Texas,” he said. “The other piece was in front of a shopping center but was relocated to a private residence in California just last year.

“We’ve spent so much time traveling from coast to coast doing gallery and museum shows that I haven’t been very involved on the local art scene. I’ve had two different galleries represent my work here in Fort Worth; both are now closed.”

Doellinger is currently represented by eight galleries across the nation and one in the United Kingdom. He’s also been elected to both the National Sculpture Society and the Society of Animal Artists.

“I’m always working on several pieces at a time for submission to museum shows and display at galleries,” he said. “I also have a few larger commissions going, a large Labrador retriever sculpture for an elementary school in Hawaii and a one-third-life-size white rhino sculpture for a few collectors.”