Born in Farmersville, California in 1925, Clement Renzi grew up milking cows and tending grapes while attending school in Visalia. Always an engaging and inquisitive person, Clement made friends as a child with a neighbor who taught him to play popular songs on her piano and took him to his first concert (performed by no less than the legendary Sergei Rachmaninoff).
He showed an enterprising streak, selling seeds door to door and driving the family’s horse and buggy to Visalia providing rides to visitors during Homecoming week. He also collected rare cactus and succulents and made a conscious effort to improve his vocabulary, earning him the nickname “Dictionary”.
The intervening years were spent at college, a term of service during the war and then more studies in the bay area where he met and married Dorothy Renzi. In the course of his career, which spanned more than 60 years, Clement Renzi produced a tremendous number of sculptures, prints, mosaics, paintings and other works, which can be found throughout the United States and beyond.
A few months after Clement’s move to Fresno, a teacher brought his class on a field trip to see Clem working. A statue of two women talking caught his eye. That piece, The Visit, was chosen and placed on the Fulton Mall. Clement spent eight months casting the piece in Madrid, Spain and shipped it to California. He later recalled the suspense of waiting months for his first Fresno commission to reach dry land, amid rumors that the freighter had been shipwrecked.
After The Visit, Clement’s career was launched in Fresno, and he enjoyed a steady stream of commissions for large bronzes for public venues in Fresno and beyond.
Renzi taught sculpture for a time at Fresno State but soon gave himself full-time to his commissions and also produced hundreds of smaller pieces in bronze and terra-cotta for a private collector. He cast many works at a foundry in Verona, Italy, and enjoyed periodic stays there with his family.
Although Clement Renzi passed away in 2009, his family hopes to preserve his artistic legacy and celebrate his rich and joyful life while encouraging a broader appreciation of the ideas that guided his work. Renzi personified the thought that artistic activity is universal in young children and asked why does this activity diminish dramatically with the passing years? He felt that all human beings are born with the capacity to organize and express their unique vision of the world in some creative fashion, while Renzi lived his life in such expression.