A Copper Alliance Member
Copper in the Arts
Issue #63: July '12 - Cont'd
Shelbyvision: Timeless Celebration of Nature in Brass or Copper
"I originally wanted to stand out from the crowd by using brass instead of copper, which is ubiquitous with metalsmiths,” he says. “Lately, I'm trying both. Brass can be stretched more than silver or copper without cracking. But I like the look of copper. It's easy to form even though it won't stretch as far and, of course, there's no firescale," says Shelby.
Shelby has always been interested in art, and holds a BA in Art from Ball State University and took classes at Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania. He then studied chain-making from a local jeweler, learning the craft. Today, he purchases his copper and brass sheets from McMaster-Carr industrial supply.
“They have the best prices for the quantities I use and I can have my online orders the next day, says Shelby. “I purchase silicon bronze sheet, which is hard to find in smaller than industrial-size quantities, from Atlas Metal Sales in Colorado."
Shelby believes in using the simplest, most practical surface treatments on his metal art.
"I want to think these pieces will be around many generations from now,” he says. “I don't want someone in the distant future having to deal with eroded lacquer or trying to figure out how the original patina was produced."
A simple liver of sulfur patina provides an aged appearance and fine steel wool creates a burnished satin finish renewable any time.
"I love the look of metal and when someone else looks at one of my pieces, I don't want anything between their eyes and the metal surface," he explains.
"I sculpted the arms from a 1/4" copper rod, removed metal where it needed to be thinner and ran the drill using a belt sander to eliminate the excess metal,” Shelby describes. “Elbows were annealed and bent using a steel block and mallet. I fashioned a special punch and die for formation, then hammered, bent, flattened and created the fingers by sawing down the middle. I've made many tools for my metalsmithing work, including a large raising stake, several smaller ones, punches ranging from 1" diameter x 8" long to 1/4" diameter x 4" long and have altered numerous hammers. Now all I need is some place to store everything."
Shelby works free from outside influence at his studio a mile from his house on 20 acres of land. He has a tree nursery, garden and two ponds to inspire him along with nature walks.
His work is currently featured in "Cu29/Contemporary Work in Copper" at the Mesa Art Center in Mesa, AZ, and "Forged," at the Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA. His latest one-of-a-kind copper piece, "Evolutionary Marvel," is on exhibition in Fort Wayne, IN.
"I only recently started using copper, but there should be more in the future,” he says. “I had been making cat and dog pet urns in brass. A year ago I began offering them in copper and they now account for half my orders."
Shelbyvision, Northeast Rural Indiana, (260) 723-5210.Back to Top
Gary Magakis: The Warm Comfort of Furniture in Bronze
The Philadelphia-based artist first began working with bronze in the 1970s when he worked at a local foundry and metal fabrication. Today, he hand forges and welds furniture of all kinds, from tables, desks, and floor lamps, to cabinets, benches, and sculptural accent pieces.
“I like furniture because people interact with it, and it’s useful,” Magakis says. “There’s a functionality to it that I like, yet it also has sculptural quality.”
With a degree in sculpture from Pennsylvania State University, Magakis draws inspiration from Asian art, the arts and crafts movement and mid-century design, using bronze as his medium of choice.
“It’s a classic material,” Magakis admits. “When you think of bronze, you think of the classics, like Greek and Roman sculptures. I like the way it works. It’s a clean welding material, it’s pliable, and you can do a lot more with it.”
Magakis sources his bronze from Atlas Metal Sales in Denver, Colo. He enjoys experimenting with patinas to help color his work, and put a unique spin on his vision.
“I like the challenge of making four different legs that relate to each other and work together, and that comes from my sculptures which I usually do in series, using variations on a theme,” he says.
His cabinetry, including storage units, dressers, and credenzas, are beginning to take on more sculpted doors, drawers, and sides, with inspiration beckoning, billowing effects into them from his time driving through the Endless Mountains Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania while en route to his country home in Susquehanna County.
And narrow skyward paths of his floor lamps often carry a sense of curious minimalism, which for Magakis is very intentional.
“What I’m looking for is a balance of the shapes I use and the spaces between them, creating a visual flow of elements,” he says.
Coming up this fall, Magakis will have a selection of his furniture and sculptures featured at the Snyderman-Works Galleries on Cherry Street in Philadelphia from October 5 to November 30.
Gary Magakis, 1129 North Third Street, Philadelphia, PA (215) 421-2674Back to Top
Charles McBride White: Sculptor of the Elements
“Nature is number one,” he says of his inspiration. “Pots, limbs and tree branches---things formed by air and things we don’t see, wave patterns in water, the wind and the way birds fly.”
While attending graduate school in Corpus Christi, Texas White picked up surfing. It was while surfing he made many of his observations of the movements of nature.
White started building fountains in the early 1980’s. After graduate school, he spent a few years as an art contractor and worked with fountains jets. As part of his work, White spent a lot of time looking at fountains and concluded that most of them were missing a key aesthetic---they did not emphasize water. He decided to approach fountain building from a different perspective.
“Forget everything you have ever known,” recalls White of his initial creative process to reinvent the fountain. “Start with water and build it from there”.
One of his early fountains, was part of revitalization project in downtown Corpus Christi. It featured copper and bronze sculpted Whooping Cranes dancing in a cascading circle of water.
Today, White makes a variety of fountains and sculptures, all of them featuring copper, bronze and brass.
“Copper is the basic metal I use for all of the fountains,” he says. White recalls how he once even dissuaded another artist from building a fountain out of steel because it would rust.
Quality Metals Co (Missouri), Cambridge-Lee, (Texas) and Atlas (Colorado).White obtains his copper from suppliers throughout the United States including
White explained how he has learned more about people’s reactions to his fountains by attending art shows. In order to give the illusion of swaying grass and waves of motion, White added brass rods that would vibrate as water flowed through the fountain. The rods vibrated like a tuning fork, creating a slight hum that adds to the sound of the flowing water. Musicians have told White that the hum creates a harmonic A. At art shows, White lets people touch the rods and feel the vibration, which sometimes give off a little shock of static electricity.
Sound is another consideration when building fountains, and White takes that element very seriously. Each of his fountains creates a different sound.
“You want to have soothing sounds,” he says. “The Rain fountains sound like a soothing rain, the Calligraphic fountains sound like a gentle brook running over rocks. Geometrically designed fountains make a soft wind chime sound. The sound of that fountain will mellow you out.”
White's upcoming shows include the Art Fair on the Square Madison, WI, July 14 to 15, Mosaics Festival for the Arts St. Charles, MO, September 14 to 16 and the Bayou City Art Festival in Downtown Houston, TX, October 13 to 14.
Charles McBride White, Horizons Studios, 5494 Hwy. Licking, MO, (573) 548-2580Back to Top
Copper in the Arts: NEWS
Cy Twombly's Final Planned Bronze Installation Goes on View at the Philadelphia Museum of Art - July 10, 2012
Philadelphia Museum of Art through 2013.A suite of six bronze sculptures, the last installation of this type planned by the late artist Cy Twombly (1928-2011), is now on view in the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building of the
With works dating from 1979 to 2011, Twombly selected these pieces for display in the building’s atrium in close collaboration with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, before the artist’s death last July. All works are on loan to the Museum from the Cy Twombly Foundation.
“These eloquent and imposing works are a meditation on the relationship between classical history and modern art, reflecting the artist’s deep affection for antiquity,” said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “This engagement with the past not only sets him apart from other artists of his generation, but is also a key to understanding his unique and enduring artistic voice. Twombly specifically selected the sculptures to resonate with his epic painting series in ten parts, Fifty Days at Iliam (1978), which has been on display in the Museum’s main building since 1989 and is one of the Museum’s masterpieces of modern and contemporary art.
“Cy was very precise in his choices for the display of these works, including their sequence and location,” says Carlos Basualdo, the Keith and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, who met with the artist numerous times to plan the installation. “It gives the Museum’s audiences the unique opportunity to admire two complementary aspects of Twombly’s extraordinary work—his paintings and his sculptures.” While well known as a painter, Twombly was an accomplished and extraordinarily influential sculptor. The white-washed bronze sculptures presented in the exhibition have surfaces that are richly inflected by the casting process. They also vary in size and imagery, each including motifs found in Fifty Days at Illiam (Galleries 184 and 185, Main Building). With the Trojan War as their subject, both the paintings and the bronze sculptures allude to ancient combats: to chariots, sitting still or ferociously charging; to the rising sun before the conflict begins; and to the sunset, which falls equally on the victorious and the defeated.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Philadelphia, PA, (215) 763-8100Back to Top