Alaska’s Premier Wildlife Sculptor, Frank Entsminger, has studied wildlife in the Alaska wilderness for OVER FIVE DECADES bringing an unparalleled depth to his art. These true-to-life bronzes could only be the work of one who deeply understands wildlife.
Frank Entsminger is a sculptor in taxidermy and wildlife art. Frank’s love of nature and the outdoors began as a child in Montana. Born in Montana in 1943, at a very young age, he played in taxidermy. He collected mice to skin and mount and then make wildlife scenes in a shoe box. Later, Frank worked as a taxidermist for Great Falls Sporting Goods in his early high school years.
Just out of high school in 1962, Frank ventured to Alaska with two high school buddies, Sandy Jamieson, artist, & Marty Rinio, taxidermist. Since then, he has roamed Alaska’s vast wilderness both as a hunter and student of wildlife anatomy. His first 15 years in Alaska were spent in the Fairbanks & North Pole area operating Northland Taxidermy with partner, Marty Rinio.
1973, Frank met his wife, Sue, in his taxidermy shop. She was looking for a job. Marty hired her to make forms. It wasn’t long and Frank took Sue as his wife. Their outdoor and hunting interest was deeply shared. They started their life together in 1975. A year later, they moved in a remote area of Alaska to his cabin half mile off the road making survival & life a bit difficult. When they later lost their home to fire 8 months later, Frank took that tragedy as an omen. He did not want to start over in that harsh heavy snow area. He told Sue years before while doing taxidermy in Fairbanks that the Tok Fish & Game Area Biologist brought a 40″ ram that was hit on the road into his shop for mounting. Frank’s words, “That is where I want to live where 40” rams are along the highway.” Frank’s hands were badly burned from the fire. This event was the turning point for Frank from taxidermy to bronzes. His second and third degree burns needed serious medical attention for months. Once he could start using his hands, he began light work exercising his hands sculpting wildlife pieces. Later he had his small figurines cast in bronze. Those 15 years in Fairbanks as a taxidermist, Frank had become quite the dall sheep hunter and well known as a great taxidermist particularly for sheep. They searched for a place to buy in that area Frank chose to live, where 40” rams were seen along the highways. They found it and moved there in 1977. That deep passion for the sheep, wildlife, and wilderness brought Frank and Sue to the Mentasta Mountains south of Tok where they started their business Wilderness Creations and Taxidermy. They have an abiding love for the land, the wildlife and their Alaska native neighbors.
In the midst of this rural wilderness setting, Frank is frequently afield with his spotting scope hiking the mountains observing and photographing wildlife. Frank’s trained eye focuses not only on their beauty, but also the animal’s anatomy along with their movements. Frank life experiences along with his natural ability to sculpt three-dimensional ideas for his life-size taxidermy also led him to bronze sculptures.
Many people recognized his self-taught talent and encouraged him to make the sculptures more permanent. Joe Halko, a friend & renowned bronze artist from Montana suggested Frank to turn his conceptual sculptures into bronzes. But this did not happen until the tragic fire occurred that took Entsminger’s home in 1976. Fate has a way of changing your life & opening new doors. In 1979, Frank cast his first bronze sculpture.
Since his early years as a bronze artist he has collected full skeletons of big-game animals to sculpt the muscles onto the skeleton lending accurate measurements & positioning. He then transforms the knowledge from the finished life-size model to his intended sculpture.
Frank’s countless hours spent in the field researching, observing, and photographing equals the hours in his studio transferring his knowledge, talents, and love of wildlife to each sculpture. When you see his work, you will understand the value of all this background work.
Frank’s wife Sue is also an accomplished Alaska outdoors woman. Frank and Sue spend many days afield each year from their mountain valley home base. Sue helps in advertising, webwork, & the social media.
In recent years, Frank has traveled abroad to Asia on several hunting trips for the critters in the high mountainous area of Tajikistan & Mongolia. His interest in high alpine dwellers has broadened his art to Asian sheep and ibex.