A bee crafted of metal sits atop a honeycomb of hexnuts on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A bee crafted of metal sits atop a honeycomb of hexnuts on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Metalwork gets time to shine

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center, with the efforts of local metalworkers and artists being exhibited as “Metalwork & Play.”

“Some pieces were heavy, some pieces are fragile, some people’s pieces are so big they’re on the floor,” Board President Marion Nelson said Wednesday. “A huge variety.”

Around the center, metal is used in diverse methods and forms — each artist bringing a style wholly different than the others. Many pieces are sculptures, many are cut two-dimensional images. One looks most similar to a painting, with images of a fisherman, a salmon and a bear depicted on a large sheet of metal, their colors seemingly burned on.

An eye-catching fabrication included in the exhibition is a large metal dog created from recognizable parts — its ribs were once wrenches, its spine and tail a chain not unlike one that would be seen on a bike. The dog stands tall in the center of the space, a bright yellow tennis ball held in its mouth.

“The tennis ball was to make sure everybody knows it’s a dog,” artist Dave Emery said. “Generally, you look at a skeletal thing and most people think dinosaur.”

Emery, a professional welder, said he worked to make the dog as anatomically correct as he could, using scrounged parts — which he called an exercise in repurposing things.

“I like metal,” he said. “I understand how it works and how I can make it do what I want it to do.”

Certainly the largest pieces in the show are two giant sculptures of bugs — a beetle and a dragonfly, which were created by Jacob Nabholz, who said he’s been working with metal for around seven years. Nabholz also created other, smaller sculptures included in the show, like a small metal man sitting on a piece of railroad track.

Nabholz said he enjoyed cutting metal things apart, putting them together, cutting them apart again and welding them together, heating and bending them.

“Get the shape that you want and it’s pretty permanent,” he said. “Once you’re done you’re done.”

The pieces made by Nabholz featured in the show also incorporate recognizable metal scraps and imagery, in a similar vein to Emery’s dog sculpture. Nabholz said it’s fun for himself and for the audience to use recognizable parts, and also that scrap metal is easy and relatively inexpensive to come by.

Bigger sculptures, like the dragonfly and the beetle, come from a desire to use auto body parts, taken from old cars, he said.

“It’s got a lot of fun color to it, faded paint and everything like that,” he said. “But it’s still light enough that I can move it around.”

Though large sculptures are quickly eye grabbing, equally represented are intricate two-dimensional sheets of metal cut into shapes.

One such work is a large blue halibut, within which can be seen a mountain range and a boat moving through water. The halibut was made by Chelline Larsen, who said she’s worked using metal for well over a decade with her husband.

“I do the design work and he does all the dirty work.”

Metal, she said, lends itself to “graphic, clean lines.”

Larsen said she enjoys incorporating Alaska imagery in her work, and that the mountain vista seen in the halibut was taken from a real view of the mountains she got looking across Cook Inlet on the Homer Spit.

An opening reception for Metalwork & Play will be held at the center on Thursday, from 5-7 p.m.

In keeping with the evening’s metal theme, Nelson said the reception’s music will be performed by a quintet of local musicians using exclusively brass instruments. Mark and Francis Jurek will be on trumpet, Jeanne Duhan will play French horn, Kent Petersen is on trombone, and Cole Watkins will be bringing a tuba.

For more information about Metalwork & Play, as well as other upcoming exhibitions at the Kenai Art Center, visit kenaiartcenter.org. Another show will be held in the back gallery of the center throughout March, featuring work from Homer artist Ed Hutchison.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

A metal dog created by Dave Emery stands tall, clutching a tennis ball in its mouth Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal dog created by Dave Emery stands tall, clutching a tennis ball in its mouth Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal dog created by Dave Emery stands alongside other metal creations on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal dog created by Dave Emery stands alongside other metal creations on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A small metal man takes a seat on a railroad track in this sculpture by Jacob Nabholz seen Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A small metal man takes a seat on a railroad track in this sculpture by Jacob Nabholz seen Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A large metal beetle sculpted by Jacob Nabholz stands on legs made of rebar Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A large metal beetle sculpted by Jacob Nabholz stands on legs made of rebar Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal dragonfly sculpted by Dave Emery stands atop a pedestal, two other pieces visible behind it on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal dragonfly sculpted by Dave Emery stands atop a pedestal, two other pieces visible behind it on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A large metal dragonfly sculpted by Jacob Nabholz commands a space on the floor Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A large metal dragonfly sculpted by Jacob Nabholz commands a space on the floor Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Metal branches reach out from a sculpture seen Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Metal branches reach out from a sculpture seen Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Images of a fisherman, a bear and a salmon are depicted on a sheet of metal seen Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Images of a fisherman, a bear and a salmon are depicted on a sheet of metal seen Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The sihouette of branches and leaves are illuminated on a sculpture Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The sihouette of branches and leaves are illuminated on a sculpture Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal halibut containing a mountain range seen from the Homer Spit, created by Chelline Larsen, hangs Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A metal halibut containing a mountain range seen from the Homer Spit, created by Chelline Larsen, hangs Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz, as seen on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska. The sculpture is part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz, as seen on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska. The sculpture is part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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