Rediscovering my love of metal sculpture
Undoubtedly the creative highlight of my trip were the two days spent at Van Doren Metal Art studio in the Los Frailes district a newer development on the outskirts of the historic town.
view of Los Frailes from the studio deck
The house is open, with spacious rooms, high ceilings and full of Lane’s art collection and his own work. We were treated to lunch in the dining room both days, and of course the dog came along.
Alex and his father Lane have a big studio full of old style, accessible and easy to work with metal tools. The two of them facilitate with great ease, enthusiasm and joy supporting small groups to create metal art of all kinds. In addition to the tools, the studio has a great collection of metal bits and pieces gleaned from frequent scrapyard visits on Alex’s part, and regular donations from his circle of contacts in the metal scrap business.
Day one we ‘met’ the tools, everyone had a chance to use every tool, all the while the group of us were scheming and imagining what we might make. By the end of the day concepts were being drawn up, bits and pieces gathered and arranged, larger pieces of metal being cut, the creative juices really flowing. I knew early on that I would make a mask, don’t know why, I’ve never made one before, the idea of a two part representation, perhaps the classic theatre mask, perhaps some other approach. I mulled it over that evening and in the morning it was clear, one side would be pre-columbian, the other European. I was set and ready to roll.
Cutting, welding, shaping, turning, finding small pieces, gradually the sections began to form themselves into something. Lots of helpful input from Lane and Alex, a hand here and there where my welding skills failed, experimenting with each step, just the way I love to work.
the base steel form cut with the plasma cutter, then cut in half and welded at an angle gave me my starting point. bits and pieces gathered from the collection made eyes.
acid washed steel strips turned around the cutter handle, became pre columbian hair.
then the mouth, two folded steel circles, some welding art and a piece of copper for the tongue, had to have that copper!!
with lots of help from Lane, masking the mask to add the final touch, paint in two shades for added emphasis.
We five all left delighted with our new work to carry home – an essential element in my decision to make something I could fit into my suitcase!!
Hot Springs on a hot day
I was doubtful but game to give it a go when my new friend from the Writers’ Conference suggested a trip to the hot springs. Now I love hot springs, don’t get me wrong, but I just wasn’t sure that a hot spring on a 25 degree celsuis day would feel good. We headed out of town to La Gruta spa about twenty minutes on the wide smooth highway, pulled into the gravel parking lot and found our way to the entrance. I was so pleasantly surprised, I guess my expectations were not high, and this place exceeded them. The pool was lovely, soaking with friendly families and delightful curious Mexican children. It was a delight watching the easeful play of these good natured people. We ventured into the tunnel arriving in a white domed grotto where a blast of hot water spews from high on the rock wall offering a powerful back and shoulder massage.
We finished the afternoon relaxing with a marguerita after our dip, with our shade umbrella and table on an open grassy patio.
marguerita time at the hot springs with Doug Rice
Art Party at the Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery
I was assured by Doug that the Chapel of Jimmy Ray was not to be missed and he was right. The gallery is an amazing creation of mosaic artist Anando McLaughlin and his partner who have developed a piece of countryside into a fantasyland of delight. Whimsical works employing hundreds of wine bottles, tons of broken mirrors and pottery, sparkling costume jewellery and other notions adorn the gallery, the house, and the lands around them. The most unique composting toilet stands proud near the gallery, a testament to the brilliance of eco-friendly, practical sculptural art. I was among a goodly crowd in attendance at an art party and opening to celebrate the work of Shirli Marcantel and Greg Ellis wonderful collage artists whose work somehow complimented Anando’s mosaics.
come into the gallerythe composting toilet
back yard wall in process
the entertainment so typical of Mexico, giant puppets.