The 254

Ty Nathan Clark

By Kevin Tankersley

From Canvas to the Big Screen

If there’s an artistic medium to be found, chances are that Ty Nathan Clark has used it. He’s been creating since he was 4. By the time he was attending high school in Northern California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, he was “into sculpture more than anything else,” he said, until one day he found an 8-foot piece of plywood in the dumpster. He strapped the wood to the top of his car, a brown 1990 Nissan Sentra, and then began painting on it on the back patio of his house.

“Everything I was doing sculpture-wise was really small,” he said. “And there was just something about scale and something about being able to express myself over 8 feet rather than 12-14 inches at the time. I just fell in love with the medium of paint and working really big.”

He still paints — big. A painting he did in 2019 is called “Today, Mary Oliver and I Sat Under a Tree and Laughed About Life. And Then We Raced Down to the Creek. (She Won).” It’s painted on one of Clark’s used studio drop cloths and measures 12 feet by 9 feet.

He still sculpts and works in wood and mixed media, using found objects and, often, driftwood from Lake Waco.

And he is listed as producer on the 2019 documentary “Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story,” a one-hour, 19-minute film about the basketball player who invented the jump shot, a move used by every basketball player in the world now. Sailors was 5-foot-10 and created the shot when he was playing one-on-one against his brother Bud, who was

6 inches taller. Kenny Sailors played college ball at the University of Wyoming, where he was named the nation’s Player of the Year twice and was an All-American selection three times.

“I’m a film nerd, and one of my favorite artists who is still alive is Julian Schnabel. He’s an Academy Award-winning director and filmmaker, and he started as a painter,” Clark said. “He was able to do both and balance both, and I’ve always wanted to do that.”

Clark, who at 6-foot-4 forward with a 39-inch vertical, played college basketball at Azusa Pacific University and professionally in Romania, used his contacts in the sports world to land interviews with current and retired NBA stars such as Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Stephen Curry; and with legendary coaches like Lou Carnesecca and Bobby Knight, who, regardless of his public persona, is a great guy, Clark said.

After Curry, a star player for the Golden State Warriors, learned of the project and sat for an interview, he asked how he could be more involved in the film and was brought on as executive producer, giving the film an “A-list celebrity … to really push it places you couldn’t go otherwise,” Clark said.

“Jump Shot” premiered at South by Southwest two years ago and took home Best Documentary honors at the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma, even beating out an Oscar-nominated film along the way.

Clark and his wife, Mande, moved to Waco from Austin a little more than four years ago, at the urging of friends Blake and Kimberly Batson and Brett and Emily Mills.

Clark’s art is available at Mont Art House in Houston, NAVA Contemporary in New York and San Francisco, and through his website,

A New Outlet

Clark’s next major work is a novel that he’s hoping will be published in 2021.

“It’s a story of a young artist in Dallas who has a completely dysfunctional life that’s full of vivid dreams and daydreams from his pop culture heroes through time, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Dave Eggers, Tolkien,” Clark said. “They help him along this journey as he leaves Texas and moves to New York to fulfill his dreams in the art world.”

To give the novel a unique twist, Clark is compiling a “literary soundtrack” for readers to listen to while reading the book.

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