Member Since: July, 2016
During the summer of 2007 I spent a wonderful week learning the very basics of welding under the tutelage of Richard Yaski. An internationally acclaimed metal artist and a very patient teacher, he opened his Mendocino studio to seven of us who had enrolled in the “Beginners Welding for Yard Art” class at the Mendocino College of Arts. After that one-week immersion class (8am-5pm Monday – Friday) I was “hooked.”
Having admired and purchased several pieces of garden art for our house in Petaluma, I was familiar with Susandra Spicer’s works. In late 2008 Susandra graciously allowed me to work intermittently with her, and we shared a studio until 2012. This fantastic opportunity allowed me to continue my art pursuits in spite of my 60+ hour a week corporate job managing numerous nation-wide change management projects as the Sr. Director of Innovation for a prominent national insurance company. Welding with Susandra provided me with a wonderful outlet for artistic creativity and her mentorship was an invaluable opportunity to hone my skills. Now retired from the corporate world, it is a delightful luxury to turn my full time energy and focus to my art!
“Dumpster diving” at salvage or recycle facilities and metal fabrication shops takes on a whole new meaning if you are a metal sculptor curating vintage or repurposed objects. Always having a pair of gloves in my car comes in handy when there is a discarded, unwanted, yet interesting piece of metal just waiting to be discovered and up cycled for another debut. I have a metal “bone yard” on our property next to my welding studio. Metal arrives from numerous sources: people who have seen my art, customers who have purchased a sculpture, family, friends, art gallery employees and yes, even metal I’ve “rescued” from being thrown out.
Inspiration and creativity for each sculpture comes about in various ways. Sometimes when I discover a piece of metal I mentally see it in a particular way for a future sculpture. The musicality of the center portion of Happy Harmony took shape in my mind the moment I was given that piece of metal- and Happy Harmony grew from that vision.
Yet, not all of the pieces for a sculpture may already be at hand. I was instantly enamored with the beautiful curved green pieces that support Heartfelt Symphony. However, the metal braces that I saw as “tuning forks” did not find their way to me until two years later. Once the “tuning forks” arrived, the vision of Heartfelt Symphony began to emerge in my mind.
Then there are times when I go to the bone yard and a piece of metal that has quietly rested there for months, or years, suddenly calls out to me. Pair’a’Scopes came about this way. While looking for a small piece of metal for another sculpture, I moved the yellow, curved brace that holds the two scopes. I was suddenly drawn to that yellow piece of metal and went on a “yellow hunt” in the bone yard. All of the metal in Pair’a’Scopes had been quietly sitting in the bone yard for more than a year. It is fun, rewarding and delightful when one piece of vintage or repurposed metal calls out to another piece of metal, and POOF, it inspires the next metal sculpture.
And then there are times when serendipity explodes, and an inspiring sculpture almost designs itself. Such was the case with “Taking Flight.” I pulled the randomly bent large metal bar that is the top of the sculpture out of a dumpster and immediately saw it as a bird. Then within minutes in another dumpster I found the discarded “skeleton” that is the center of the sculpture! By the end of that day “Taking Flight” was creating smiles, and I love the metamorphous depicted with the cut-outs in the skeleton: first a nest with three eggs, then wings flapping in the nest, then a fledgling, and finally “Taking Flight.”
In designing the sculptures I work to arrange pieces in a gentle, pleasing way that brings softness and calm to otherwise harsh and cold metal. As I visualize, design and engineer each sculpture, I keep working with it until the sculpture makes me smile. I call this the “Jan-test.” If a sculpture doesn’t pass the Jan-test, then it doesn’t end up getting created. After all, life is too short not to bring a smile to a face by giving discarded and unwanted, repurposed or vintage metal a second, third or fourth chance.