In Summerlin area, sculptor showcases an unusual art form: foam

Updated April 26, 2017 - 10:12 pm

An artist has many kinds of media from which to choose: oils, acrylics, watercolor, chalk, pencil, charcoal, marble, foam and …

Wait. Foam?

Sam Chinkes gave a foam art demonstration March 20 for Sun City Summerlin’s art club at Desert Vista Community Center. He offered a challenge: Anyone who wanted to could come up and work on it for a spell, too.

“There’s not another artist on earth who would allow other people to come up and (work on their art). But I will,” he said before he began. “If they wanted to ruin it, they could. … I want to open their eyes to something they’ve never seen.”

The art club has nearly 100 members. About 45 were on hand for Chinke’s demonstration, part of the club’s monthly meeting.

“This is great. I’m interested in seeing what he’s going to do,” said Harry Blazer, who was new to the club.

Esther Hannon has been with the club for two years. She said only handful of members did sculpting.

“But I love how they bring in people to show us new things,” Hannon said of the club.

Art has long been a passion for Chinkes. He owned an advertising agency for years. He does abstract pieces and starts with no preconceived notion of how they will end up. This day, he had half an hour to shape the foam into something with promise.

He brought out a block of polyurethane, about a foot and a half cubed, then stabbed the foam with a kitchen knife, sending chips flying. He created a hole through the center.

“It looks like I’m removing matter, but I’m actually shaping space,” he told the crowd.

Every so often, he pulled back to check his progress.

“You have to keep turning it, so it looks good from all directions,” Chinkes said.

Although he reiterated his challenge, no one took Chinkes up on his offer to come up and try it.

A few questions came from the audience as he chipped off pieces: What kind of foam was it? How much did the block cost? Why was part of it yellow?

The block runs about $55, the pits in it were from last year’s hail and the discoloration came from it being stored outside.

“I don’t keep it in the house because it’s poisonous,” Chinkes said, chopping away.

Those in the front row leaned back in their seats.

Art club member Elvira Santiano paints with oils. She took exception with Chinkes’ “just start and see how it turns out” attitude, saying it looked like fun, “but you have to have something in mind when you (start).”

Chinkes brought along three sculptures that had been finished with industrial sprays, which made them look like rock.

In the end, the piece was beginning to look like it had possibilities. It would take another 40 to 50 hours, Chinkes said, to complete it.

Would he finish it?

“Probably not,” he said. “I’m 93. Sculpting is a lot of work.”

Contact Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

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