short bio:

• since 2003, 20+ monumental sculptures in corporate, healthcare

   and university facilities


• studio Northern Colorado


• exhibited in the United States, Europe and Japan


• resident of West Texas for 23 years


• University of Kansas School of Fine Arts, MFA *


• native of the Louisiana Gulf Coast


• My day-to-day includes dialog with other professionals on interior

   sculpture of monumental scale as well as periods of quiet building

   smaller scale, personal work.


My work is about being alive within and moving through the mesh of our cultural, natural and social worlds. It ranges over such themes as the quality of materials, what it means to make things and the experiences of light, space and mystery. The sculptures that I make are the result of play and the interplay of structure, color, movement, balance and refined craft.

client comments:

“Mel is wonderfully creative and a joy to work with.”


“Superbly professional!”


“Mel’s works delight visitors and staff of all ages. He is one of the most respected artists in the country and is the unique blend of exceptional collaborator and highly creative. Recommending Mel is cinch!”


“Every detail was carefully planned, clearly communicated and perfectly crafted. I look forward to our next project!”


“Mel Ristau has a masterful understanding of architectural space and the interplay of his sculpture in the three dimensional environment.”


“The crowning showpiece in our new building, Mel’s sculpture is pure joy.”


"We have worked with Mel Ristau on the commissions of two aerial sculptures.  His work epitomizes both an amazing imagination and a superb attention to detail.  We look forward to our next project together."


“Mel’s sculptures are graphically clean, spirited and inventive and have connected with students, faculty and parents in a way that is fresh and inviting—creating delightful focal points that have significantly impacted the effectiveness of our learning environments.”


“Mel’s work makes a tangible and powerful addition to any environment.”


“Mel Ristau’s artworks are a wonderful addition to the Nebraska 1% for Art collection. Mel's dedication to his work and consummate professionalism show brilliantly in his entire artistic process. I expect these works to remain among the favorites of our collection for years to come.”


“Signaling the creative activity within and providing a playful invention for our Santa Ana winds, your outdoor sculpture is masterfully crafted, perfectly scaled and sensitive to the slightest breeze. A most rewarding collaboration!”


“A positive experience for all! Mel is a sculptor that understands architectural space. His colorful kinetic work is immediately engaging—establishing a welcoming sense of place for all at Children’s Medical Center-Legacy.”


“Mel’s sculpture is pure delight—delight for all ages. His work brightens and enlivens our museum’s lobby. It is among the most accessible and hospitable artworks in our museum.”


“A beautiful addition and most successful collaboration!”


“[Mel Ristau’s] pristine works were, clean, serene, gorgeous and popular.”

source of quotes (as sequenced above):

Colorado Council on the Arts

McGrath & Braun Art Consultants

Fanning Partnership

Lindsey Cowhey Art Consultant

Brenda Smith, RID, IIDA

Walker Brands, Inc.

Sapiro Art Consultants

Richardson Texas ISD

Corgan Associates, Inc.

Nebraska Arts Council

HMC Architects

Page Southerland Page

Yellowstone Art Museum

The Dallas Morning News

what's he like?

* My study at The University of Kansas in the late 70's / early 80's led to a thesis on an alternative typographic system then possible only with what was called "soft screen" computer technology. (The high resolution rendering (greyscale) of type families and complex page composition that is commonplace today.)


Here's a thesis abstract for, "A Typography for the Whole Brain." **

(unpublished master's thesis, The University of Kansas School of the Arts, 1981)


The perceived meaning of a message is closely tied to orientation within the whole. Where pictures orient quickly, linear sequential form orients over time. Hemispheric specialization and bias in the human brain implies differences in the processing skills and methods used by individuals when decoding complex written texts. Spatial structure is often encoded within such linear sequential forms (articles, journals, books, etc.). The proposed typographic forms are based on a process of identifying spatial structural descriptions within written narrative, developing a 3-dimensional model of those structures, and then recoding the structures as a 2-dimensional typographic composition. For a left brain processing bias, the resulting spatial codification of spatial structure provides a high-level view of the message, facilitating orientation and ultimately, meaning.

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