Despite his artistic leanings, Wick and his own brother were initiated into the newspaper business when the artist was in high school; they started literally from the ground up, sweeping floors, then working in circulation. An excellent athlete himself, Wick began writing sports articles for the family paper and eventually went to journalism school. While in college, he played baseball and had dreams of playing pro ball, which he gave up to pursue art, his real love. Wick ended up teaching in Ohio and New York until 1975, when his father, who had retired to Phoenix, became ill. At that point, he found himself back in the newspaper business part-time here in Arizona and, after his father's death in 1981, full-time, although he continued to create and show his work in private galleries and museums throughout the United States, including the Tucson Museum of Art and Scottsdale Center for the Arts. In 1979, Wick started buying what would become a 2,600-acre spread, some of which is in a wash-riddled, double canyon in the Mule Mountains near Bisbee. With the help of one assistant, he planted more than 12,000 ponderosa-pine seedlings in the area, hand-watering them. "Of those 12,000 seedlings, probably only 500 to 1,000 have survived," Wick estimates.

The artist's fascination with and commitment to the beauty of southern Arizona's almost mystical natural environment led to his founding, with the help of Dick Kamp, of the Border Ecology Project. He and Kamp are credited with spearheading the drive to stave off smelter-expansion plans for neighboring Nacozari and Cananea, Sonora; they're also responsible, in large measure, for the closure of an 80-year-old smelter owned by Phelps Dodge in nearby Douglas, a smelter producing such harmful pollution that it turned southern Arizona into the country's most badly polluted area. Sulphuric-acid-laden plumes would drift for miles, causing even asthmatics in the far north end of the valley to become ill. Dick Kamp, who is in Peru consulting on a similar smelter problem there, remains on the payroll of Wick Communications, so that this ecological battle can continue. With the help of an architect, Wick is designing a home and studio he plans to build in the mountains he loves. "It will incorporate a pyramid, a right triangle and a trapezoid," he says, "and will take advantage of the mountain views that surround the site. I plan on bringing a lot of my work up here." In keeping with his sincerely spiritual orientation, the artist plans to make an abstracted bronze Buddha that will stand watch over a pool looking out over the rugged vistas stretching to the horizon in every direction. "I seek peace and balance as an artist," says Robert Wick, whose life, like his art, is a continuing work in progress.

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