Robertus Joost van der Wege was born in Portland, Oregon on November 8, 1944. His early childhood was spent in Holland, Saugatuck and Kalamazoo, Michigan. The son of a sign painter, Bob van der Wege was encouraged early on to express himself artistically. This provided him with a tool that would prove to be significant in overcoming the dyslexia that would affect his reading and math skills in later years.
After completing high school, he remained in Kalamazoo, Michigan to attend Western Michigan University and graduated with a B.A. in 1968, majoring in sculpture and art history. After teaching high school for a year, he moving to Honolulu, Hawaii to attend graduate school. While there he worked part-time as a graphic artist and built props for films such as Tora, Tora, Tora and the television series Hawaii 5-0. For a time he also managed the hobby shop at Hawaii State Prison, worked as the Curator of Extension Services for the Honolulu Academy of Arts and trained for modern pentathlon. After six years on Oahu, he moved to Hilo, Hawaii as the Culture and Arts Coordinator for the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He graduated with an M.A. in Asian and Pacific Art History from the University of Hawaii – Manoa in 1978.
That same year, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, with his new bride, to take a position as Assistant Director at the University of Minnesota Gallery. When the economic downturn of the late 70’s and early 80’s left him without a job, he began working part-time as a study-abroad fundraiser and teaching the sport of fencing to young people. During the 14 years he spent in St. Paul, Bob became the father of three sons, Kees, Tijl and Haan, and build his small fencing club into one of the larges and most competitive teams in the U.S.
In 1993, Bob divorced and moved to Illinois, and in 1996 he was given the opportunity to teach part-time at Sauk Valley Community College. A year later he became full-time faculty and chairman of the art department. During this period he spent his summers working in local bronze casting foundries, and he ran for public office, becoming a parks commissioner for the City of Oregon, Illinois.
Later, Bob moved to Rockford, Illinois to be part of a more active arts community and to begin working on another master’s degree. In 2003, Bob became a member of the Baha’i Faith and married Sherri Meintser. In addition to his three sons, Bob was now stepfather to two girls, Sierra and Nova and a boy, Sean. In 2005 a chance meeting with Lyle Drexler, the Malta Bike Man, led Bob to begin working with bicycles as a sculptural form and in 2006, he graduated with a MFA degree in sculpture from Northern Illinois University.
Later that year, after deciding that they needed an adventure and a path of greater service, Bob and Sherri moved to South Africa. There Bob had the opportunity to exhibit his bicycle sculptures on several occasions but was unable to obtain a work permit.
In 2007, Bob and Sherri returned to the U.S. and moved to Dallas, Texas so that Sherri could begin work on another graduate degree. After having much of his sculpture destroyed during the return shipping from Africa, Bob began working with a master bicycle mechanic and taking welding classes in order to become a more adept sculptor. His new work, however, was clearly affected by his African experience. Early in 2008, Bob became faculty at the Art Institute of Dallas and in 2009 began actively exhibiting his bicycle sculpture once again.
In 2010, Bob and Sherri returned to live in Africa, this time to Tripoli, Libya. While there, they traveled throughout North Africa and the Mediterranean and Bob taught drawing classes to Libyans who had never had the opportunity to study western artistic techniques. In late 2010, they moved to Calgary, Alberta, and later Regina, Saskatchewan, before returned to Texas in 2012.