Ralph realized he was an artist when he was military school. He was seven at the time. Art was second nature for Ralph, and later became a second career for him. In a 20 year span, Crawford created many western and wildlife bronzes which are admired by his peers and sought after by collectors all over the world. Although, Crawford has won numerous awards for his Bronzes of the Old West, it is his sculptures of body builders that brought him worldwide recognition.
As a youth, Crawford lived a very physical life style which included lifting weights. When Crawford read of Joe Weider's interest in western art, he introduced himself in a letter, which led to a commission to create a heroic size bronze bust of Weider as 1938 Mr. Universe. Weider's Muscle Magazine used the bust as a cover story in November 1979. Weider has used the statue as a log on his body building products world wide ever since. Arnold Schwarzenegger sculpted his world-class muscles in gyms and captured body-building titles with a pose called "Arnold's Classic". Crawford immortalized Arnold's classic pose for him in a bronze with the same title. It is now the covedted award at the annual National Body-Building Championship event Scwarzenegger sponsors in Columbus, Ohio. When Muscle and Fitness magazine ran a 90-page spread on Arnold in July 1997, its cover was a photo o Arnold with the Crawford Bronze.
A foundry manager said that of all the artists his company worked with, no one understood the distortion caused by casting bronzes and was able to compensate like Crawford. Ralph retired from his art career in 1995. He was content to travel, sail, and begin a three-acre vineyard until the spring of 1998 when he saw the work's of the old masters in the Smithsonian. Crawford has returned to the process of creating fine art. he still retains control of the final product by making molds, pouring waxes, and tooling waxes himself, before sending the sculptures to a foundry.
A biographer wrote that Crawford could be mistaken for a history professor, a body builder or a professional artist. He could also be mistaken as a cowhand or horseman from one of his sculptures. Students of the Battle of the Little Big Horn could learn a new perspective from Crawford's informal lectures. They can share what he has learned about the People and their ways by studying Crawford's series of Sioux War Chiefs.
About Ralph's Art...