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Known for his bronze sculpture, metal, and woodwork, artist Tom Roberts of Byers, TX, has recently won statewide recognition for his work in a more unusual medium. Believe it or not… it’s butter. 

Roberts, a draftsman at BYSP Architects, finished his first sculpture in 1984. It promptly exploded in the kiln. His 2021 first prize-winning piece in the State Fair of Texas is similarly fragile. In fact, it has an actual expiration date and must be displayed in a refrigerated room.

The first prize mini-butter sculpture he entered into the State Fair of Texas is inspired by a painting. It depicts a man sitting backward on a horse addressing the crowd in a sale barn. Roberts said that he needed a project that was a little more normal after the last year and a half – and (somehow) the butter carving competition fit the bill. 

When asked if it was more difficult than other mediums, the artist responded with a grin. “It’s cheap,” he said.

His very first entry into the State Fair in 2017 won honorable mention. A dung beetle at work. He calls the piece “Tenacity.” According to his website, “Most Texans find it entertaining to watch these bugs at work. Rolling their oversized balls of dung over and across unlevel terrain … Their shear Tenacity can teach us all a lesson.” 

Last year, he took home first prize in the mini-butter sculpture category.

Roberts is inspired by people and the struggles of everyday life. According to his bio, Roberts “pursues an accurate representation of his subject matter through realistic depictions of a working-western-outdoor lifestyle. Admiring people who put on gloves and work hard to make a living, he strives to depict this beauty.”

His mini-butter sculpture will be on view in the refrigerated showcase in the Creative Arts Building during the State Fair. You can also see a live demonstration of his work on October 2nd at the fair from 10 a.m. to noon or 2 to 4 p.m.

To all his competitors, butter luck next year. (We had to do it.)

For more information and to see more of Roberts’ work, visit his website.

Tom Roberts and wife Deana